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14.04.2015 Social News

Chiefs should not bid for contracts in their localities

By GNA
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Bolgatanga (UE), April 14, GNA - The Social Public Expenditure and Financial Accountability (SPEFA) Group in the Bolgatanga Municipality has expressed concern about chiefs, especially paramount chiefs, who bid for the award of contracts in their localities.

The group said the practice had led to many breaches of Ghana's procurement principles, especially the principles of fairness.

It, therefore, called for the amendment of the Procurement Law and the tendering process to include a clause that would restrict chiefs from participating in the award of contracts in their own jurisdictions.

This, they noted, would help in promoting fairness and strengthening the management of contracts by the relevant authorities and other stakeholders, which would also lead to the timely execution of contracts and help in the improvement of the quality of work to ensure value for money.

The group made the suggestions at a Procurement Law and Asset Management Training Programme in Bolgatanga, organised for contractors, chiefs, assembly members, and political party representatives drawn from the Municipality, and its environs.

'The cardinal principle of fairness, according to the Procurement Act 663, becomes difficult to meet where a paramount chief, for instance, is tendering for the construction of a school building in his district,' the group explained.

'The law is at risk of a breach due to the powers and influence he wields in his district, while managing public assets being developed by such influential persons is also a challenge'.

The SPEFA Group was launched in the Municipality in 2014 through the initiative of SNV, a Netherlands Organization, in collaboration with the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development to demand social accountability from state actors, particularly, the Municipal Assemblies to help ensure that quality services and transparency are delivered.

The Development Research and Advocacy Centre (DRAC), an NGO based in the Bolgatanga Municipality, through technical support from the SNV, is implementing the project in the area.

Buttressing their argument, the group cited instances where some chiefs were awarded contracts but they were poorly executed.

However, the authorities and the communities were tightlipped over the issues because of the fear of victimization.

'Even some District Chief Executives in such circumstance are afraid of confronting such chiefs for fear of them (chiefs) causing loss of votes for their parties,' the SPEFA Group revealed.

They, however, stressed the need for Municipal Assemblies to make contract documents available to chiefs, unit committees, and opinion leaders to enable them to effectively participate in the management of contracts taking place in their communities.

Through the Group's efforts, the Bolgatanga Municipal Assembly has sanctioned more than three contractors since the beginning 2015 for breach of procurement guidelines.

The breaches range from the use of inferior materials to delays. Sanctions include cancellation of the contracts to the correction of defects at the contractors' cost.

GNA

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