A communiqué issued at the end of a week's workshop organised by the Commonwealth Secretariat under its public expenditure management programme for Senior Executives in West African Public Procurement Institutions has called on Governments to improve overall expenditure management within the framework of international practices.
The workshop which was themed, "Building Bridges on West African Public Procurement Systems," acknowledged that effective procurement practices had become necessary because of perceived corruption at a time when intra-regional trade was being encouraged especially through various Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Protocols.
It also urged West African Governments to develop and muster the political will to enforce public procurement laws and initiate the necessary reforms to block out loopholes in procurement administration.
The communiqué read by Dr Yemi Suileman, a Procurement Resources Person, called on procurement institutions to develop programmes for capacity development, build networks and create a platform for the exchanging of notes.
Mr Kaifala Marah, Adviser, Public Expenditure Management of the Governance and Institutional Development Division of the Commonwealth Secretariat, announced the formation of a regional body, "Commonwealth Public Procurement Network - West Africa Plus, (CPPN-wap). He said the regional body would serve as a co-ordinating mouthpiece to champion the cause for effective harmonisation of public procurement regulations.
Mr Marah said Ghana would host the maiden meeting of CPPN-wap in 2007 on the theme: "Benchmarking, Monitoring and Evaluation of Public procurement Systems." He urged Public Procurement officials to develop the necessary mechanism for the resolution of operational issues, especially on each country's portfolio and challenges where inputs might be required from other member states.
Statistic indicates that Africa has an estimated procurement market of between 9 and 13 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). In Ghana, procurement takes between 50 per cent and 70 per cent of the total budget after personal emoluments, making up about 14 per cent of the GDP.
Ms Noreen John, Advisor of the West Africa Region of the Commonwealth Secretariat, said public financial management, including public procurement reforms, posed significant problems for developing countries.
It is also of particular relevance to the West Africa Sub-Region where the context of prolonged political and social crisis had created the environment for the breeding of corruption. Twenty-five participants from Ghana, Cameroon, The Gambia, Nigeria and Sierra Leone attended the workshop.