Procurement professionals critical to economic growth
28.02.2017-Gaborone /European Union(EU) Ambassador to Botswana and Southern African Development Community (SADC), Mr Alexander Baum says national budget output requires trained procurement personnel to execute effectively to drive the economy.
Speaking during a panel discussion recently on ‘Employment Creation through Public Procurement during 2017/2018 National Budget’, Mr Baum said procurement is largely key but it is often under rated.He said trade is increasingly becoming complex hence the need to have trained procurement personnel who can keep up with trends in the market to ensure value for money."Let’s not forget that we are dealing with real professionals on the other side…bigger companies that apply for public tenders have their specialists and legal teams scrutinising the tenders to look for loop holes. In consequence public contracts often run over the foreseen budgets,” he said.
He noted that more often than not tenders were rolled out but quality was not easily defined, "The challenge is to define quality measurements in the tendering process and in the evaluation of bids,” he said adding that cost over runs occur in the budget as a result buying low quality which would require expensive maintenance.
Further the ambassador said Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) should have easier access to public procurement in order to grow them given their potential job creation capabilities and innovation.He said the challenge for Botswana he noticed was that government is the biggest single spender but there was failure on implementation and project management hence the need for professionals.For her part, Ministry of Finance and Development Planning deputy coordinator public finance management, Ms Grace Ntereke said the 2017/18 National Budget totals P62.7 billion, 63 per cent is recurrent budget at 39.6 billion while developmentbBudget is P6.5 billion.
Ms Ntereke said recurrent and development budget total P56.1 billion of the whole budget and 70 per cent will be spent through procurement consisting of 40 percent under recurrent and 100 per cent under development budget."This budget is expected to create employment as suppliers will be engaged locally and internationally,” she said.However, she decried overcharges by local suppliers to government, saying "they can charge five times more than the market price which adds to costs overruns."Further, she said the government is currently overwhelmed by maintenance costs for the reason that goods and services delivered were of sub standard quality hence costly."Now instead of attending to other areas we now maintain already delivered goods and services which failed to function within a year,” she said adding that maintenance costs were growing faster which was an impediment to progressive public service delivery.
"If quality was not compromised the budget base will increase hence reduce the growing budget deficit. Expenditure is rising higher than the revenue available,” she explained.To cure this problem, Ms Ntereke called for the academia to do research that will guide procurement.University of Botswana senior lecturer on Entrepreneurship, Procurement and Logistics, Mr Thuso Mphela called for alleviating bureaucracies which he said cause procurement inefficiency.
He said there was need to have sustained activities in order to create jobs adding that if a supplier was given a tender and then left for another one on account of giving others chance it could be costly.He said there was need to examine what will happen to the one that did not get the tender to ensure continuity of job creation thus supply chain management should be closely monitored to create sustainable jobs.Reiterating words of ambassador Baum, Mr Mphela emphasised the need for training of procurement professionals who were well versed with the needs of the economy and can ensure citizen empowerment.
Calviniah KGAUTLHE-Daily news BotswanA
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