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08.06.2004 Business & Finance

Three-day workshop on procurement procedure opens

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Accra, June 8, GNA - A three-day workshop aimed at promoting transparency in Government procurement programmes opened in Accra on Tuesday.

The workshop, which brought together participants from English speaking African countries, is also focusing on how to promote awareness of Government procurement - related policies within trading systems and the global market.

Mr Alan Kyeremanten, Minister of Trade, Industry and President's Special Initiatives, said developing countries did not dispute the advantages of transparency in government procurement.

"Their position is that, under any multilateral framework they must be completely free to decide which procurement they open up to in international competition and where they may give preference to their domestic supplies and suppliers."

Mr Kyeremanten said procurement processes that were transparent were based on elements such as publication of information on national legislation and procedures, procurement opportunities, tendering and qualification procedures and decisions on contract awards.

Mr Yaw Osafo-Maafo, Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, in a speech read for him, said procurement was an area of much concern to the World Trade Organization (WTO).

Quoting a 1997 African Development Bank Publication, he said it was estimated that the total revenue that went into public procurement in Africa was about 50 billion dollars, constituting 20 per cent to 30 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of Africa.

He explained that although the figure dated back to 1997, most countries on the Continent might have increased their expenditure on procurement since then.

"In Ghana, ours is 50 per cent to 70 per cent of our tax revenue, which represents 14 per cent of the GDP. I have just used these figures to indicate the importance of public procurement as a very important expenditure of our national budgets,' the Minster emphasised. He said the general lack of transparency could be one of the reasons that had contributed immensely to the political and social instability in various countries.

Mr Osafo-Maafo said: "If we all agree that our journey in democracy and good governance are the basis for sustaining our democracy stability, then it is incumbent on us to develop a well-structured mechanism for public expenditure, which is transparent and allows the average person the opportunity to access how public funds are being spent."

He said this would greatly help countries to reduce financial malpractices and minimize corruption.

Mr Roger Kampf, Counsellor of the Intellectual Property Division of the WTO, said the workshop was meant to provide a platform for an interactive debate.

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