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11.03.2009 General News

Procurement Law to deal with recalcitrants

By The Statesman

The Chief Executive of the Public Procurement Authority, Agyenim Boateng Adjei, has cautioned heads of state institutions and agencies to follow due process when evaluating and awarding contracts or risk facing the full rigors of the law when they are found to have flouted the procedures.

Speaking in an interview with the Statesman on Monday, Mr Adjei said all heads of institutions had been trained and had their capacities enhanced to supervise evaluation and award of contracts under the Act and therefore had no excuse for acting contrary to the provisions of the procurement law when awarding contracts.

He stressed that District Assemblies, particularly, had been mandated to form a quorum of six people comprising District State Attorneys, Members of Parliament and four other departmental heads from the assembly to perform the evaluation.

He said evaluations were done with greater emphasis on the technical competence and qualification of the tenderer and not the contract estimate. "Price alone is not a determining factor in evaluation. It forms about one tenth of the requirement. Price comes to play after all technical and commercial requirements have been met,' he said.

Mr Adjei said despite some shortfalls in the evaluation process including the absence of State Attorneys in some districts as well as the inability of MPs to sit in such meetings, the evaluators are enjoined not to take undue advantage to bend the rules.

'Nobody can today talk about flouting  the rules and regulations enshrined in the Procurement Act because of ignorance since several sensitisation seminars have  been held continuously over the past four years to educate them on the process', he stated.

He rejected the claim that regulators could flout the law due to ignorance, insisting, 'So long as people make up their minds to circumvent the system it does not matter the level of training they might have gone through. They decide to commit fraud because they have chosen it to be part of their profession. So there is no excuse out there for anyone who infringes on the law.'

'The Procurement Act has a clause that criminalizes any act of infringement that causes financial loss. The law states that if anybody infringes on the 99 sections of the Act, there is a prescribed punishment to deal with the anomalies' he stressed.

According to Mr Adjei, studies have shown that Ghana could save about 25%of revenue annually from prudent public procurement practices.

He noted that several entities have had their contracts withdrawn because they failed to go through the right process.

 He said rules and regulations were contained in tender documents when they are purchased by interested parties. This, he said, should be diligently followed when filling the documents since they were the same rules used for evaluation.

Mr Adjei told The Statesman that the language the procurement law was couched in was strong enough to prevent its skilful flouting, despite spirited attempts by some operators to do so.

According to him, the public had heard little about companies being prosecuted for flouting the law because many companies call on the PPA for assistance in their evaluation processes. 'Besides, most conflicts are solved at the complaints unit of the Board.'

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