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Council tenders to be regulated

Staff Writer
Minister of Local Government, Margaret Nasha, tabled a Bill to regulate the procurement process of local authorities for works, supplies and services.

The proposed law provides for the disposal of public assets, both physical and intellectual. These include the letting, hiring, or granting of any public assets, rights or services by local authorities.

The minister said that the legal instruments, which govern the procurement and disposal of assets for local authorities were promulgated between 1955 and 1970. "These include the Township Act and the District Tender Regulations. Despite several amendments to these, between 1980 and 1990, the legal framework has become inadequate in a number of critical areas," explained Nasha. She said that local authorities procurement and asset disposal processes have, as a result, been subjected to abuse by both procuring entities and clients.

She said that in 2003, her ministry secured assistance from the Commonwealth Fund for Technical Cooperation to review the procurement and disposal system. The review culminated in the bill. "It has been drafted with a view to applying the principles, best practices and lessons learnt from the PPADB Act of 2002. My ministry consulted

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extensively with local authorities before the bill was published," she stated.

She said the bill provides for the appointment of committees for each local authority and their duties. "As members may be aware, currently, tenders are evaluated and adjudicated by officials and recommended for award by committees composed of councillors only. Over the years, major controversies have erupted, between council officials and councillors over the award of tenders. Officials have often alluded to the fact that councillors were corrupt, and tended to award tenders to their companies," she said. Nasha indicated that the situation has persisted for many years and the number of cases investigated by the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) point that there is corruption. "The Bill, therefore, provides for establishment of committees with separation of responsibilities," she said. The proposed law will create three separate committees each in charge of evaluation; adjudication and performance monitoring. Nasha said the committee will close many loopholes in the system.



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