The biggest mistake that has been identified by various researchers on the failure of procurement reforms has been the emphasis on ‘how’ the reform should be conducted at the expense of understanding ‘why’ the need for the reform.
Purchasing and Supply with Nyasha Chizu
It is critical to identify ‘why’ a procurement reform is necessary given the fact that the answer shapes ‘how’ the reforms will be done.
Fortunately, the ‘why’ part of our reforms was exposed by various studies undertaken in the country such as the Country Integrated Fiduciary Assessment (CIFA) that was sponsored by the World Bank and independent desk reviews undertaken by Africa Development Bank.
This provided the country with the insight of the status quo and provided an opportunity for choice as to how the reforms would proceed.
The ‘how’ easily points you to the model that is suitable for the situation when appropriately answering the ‘why’.
There are various models that include the UNICTRAL, donor guidelines, European Union and WTO. These models are different and save different purposes.
An example is the objective of the EU that seeks to eradicate non-discrimination, equal treatment and value for money among procurement that includes participation of various member States.
In such an instance, desires of the EU model will not satisfy our requirement since our problems are not non-discrimination and equal treatment that the EU member states would want to achieve.
Although there are regional groupings such as SADC and COMESA, the objectives of the two are still far from EU free movement of citizens and goods and services.
The UNICTRAL model on the other hand, seeks to achieve economy or efficiency in the procurement process; integrity; accountability; equal opportunity and equal treatment of providers; fair treatment of suppliers; efficient implementation of horizontal policies — pursuing industrialisation, social and environmental objectives; and opening up public markets to international trade.
A country’s objective would be achieved only when the right model has been adopted.
The objectives have to be in consideration of the country context that includes its geography —– whether isolated or land locked that has impact on the country’s access to markets, political environment, and economic environment.
The objectives then shapes whether a country adopts a regulatory or outcome-based approach to the management of public procurement.
Details of the framework are derived from the objectives.
A system interested in dealing with corruption in public sector would adopt strict regulations that unfortunately defuse heavily the other factors within the system such as value for money and efficiency
The strict regulations will be achieved by enacting formal, solid and transparent primary legislation that could be in the form of an Act or Code for procurement.
Secondary legislation includes directives and regulations that include details of legal procurement processes.
Standard bidding documents such as those used by development partners do amount to secondary legislation and it is important to note that development partner procurement guidelines are also not equivalent to a procurement system.
When primary legislation is the solution to achieving the objectives, enforcement becomes very pertinent.
Enforcement becomes an important issue on the effectiveness of the legislation.
As we prepare for the reform in public procurement, the context of whether law or regulations should be adopted, shapes how the desired objectives shall be achieved
•Nyasha Chizu is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply writing in his personal capacity. Feedback: firstname.lastname@example.org; Skype: nyasha.chizu