Malawi Parliament has approved a government bill to enact new law to regulate procurement profession which will help get rid of quacks within the profession and hence get rid of corruption.
The bill which was tabled by Minister of Finance, Goodall Gondwe was approved to establish the Malawi Institute of Procurement and Supply an Institute of Procurement and Supply as a Statutory Body with the legal mandate to effectively regulate the procurement profession in the country.
Gondwe told the House that in 2004, through the Public Procurement Act, government established the Office of the Director of Public Procurement as the body charged with responsibility of regulating public procurement in Malawi but that the absence of a professional body to regulate the procurement and supply chain management profession was identified as the reason that flouted further development of the profession.
“ In order to address this, the Malawi Institute of Procurement and Supply was established as a company limited by guarantee as an interim measure to enable it to quickly start operations. The Institute has been operational since 2008. It was, however, always the intention to establish the institution under an Act of Parliament,” said Gondwe.
He said the establishment of the Institute as a statutory body would give it legal mandate to effectively regulate the procurement profession.
The law make provision for the establishment of the Malawi Institute of Procurement and Supply to be run by a Secretariat and overseen by a Board of Directors.
The bill also governs the registration of members in the procurement and supply management profession.
“ No person will be allowed to practice the procurement and supply management profession in Malawi unless that person is registered as a member of the Institute,” according to the new law.
Gondwe said with the new law, it is expected that procurement of goods, services and works for the government ministries, departments and its rated public institutions and the private sector will be undertaken by properly qualified professionals who will need to live by certain minimum ethical and professional standards.
“ It is expected that this will help in ensuring that public procurement in particular, will be conducted transparently and in an efficient manner,” said Gondwe.
The Institute will also be responsible for the accrediting of work training programmes in the procurement and supply chain management profession, the Minister of Finance said.
“ This will ensure that only institutions which are eligible under the law will conduct training in the procurement and supply chain management profession.”
The law also contains provisions for regulating the behaviour of its members.
Gondwe said considering that at least 70 per cent of the national budget is the procurement of goods, works and services, the role of public procurement cannot be overemphasized, saying government hope the new law will not only enhance good governance in the country but also assist in minimising the abuse of public resources and that “resources available to Malawi are put to very good use for the betterment of the people.”
Malawi Congress Party (MCP) spokesperson of finance Kusamba Dzonzi pointed out that the procurement framework in the country lacked a professional body to monitor the conduct of professionals in the Supply Chain Management.
He said the law will bring “sanity”.
“ But of interest, Mr Speaker, Sir, is a question to government that, is the government happy with the conduct of different professionals that are regulated in this country like accountants, vis-a-vis Cashgate issue, lawyers, doctors? These are among the regulated professionals. Does this government really believe that Malawians will smile when we pass this bill into law? Will we not experience similar problems like in the legal fraternity, Mr Speaker, Sir, whereby a lawyer would be answering to a case and is at the same time busy representing another person? You call that type of regulation a good one?
“ There are untold deaths in our hospitals, Mr Speaker, Sir, but we understand that the profession of doctors and nurses is also another regulated profession. May be we should pray that government means business this time that through this bill, let alone if we pass this into law, professionals in this procurement and supply chain profession will do the needful because most corruption cases are coming into this country because of this type of profession or business,” said Dzonzi.
Peoples Party (PP) through its MP for Zomba Malosa Roy Kachale hailed the piece of legislation, saying it has “the best interest of Malawians at heart.”
“If not properly regulated, this [procurement] profession has the potential of bringing the private sector down and indeed government to its knees,” said Kachale.
“Our government is still reeling from the effects of the infamous Cashgate that was perpetuated in part by members of this profession; the very profession that this bill seeks to regulate,” he said.
Cashgate is the systematic looting of billions of kwacha in public funds through collaboration between businesses and government officials.
Currently, some government officials and businessperson are in prison and others are answering various charges relating to the looting of public funds.
Kachale said it was pleasing that there will be an establishment of a ethical and practice committee, saying the PP expects the committee will come up with “stringent measures “ that will ensure that procurement profession is practiced to the highest level of integrity and that Malawi “ shall never again have to suffer the effects of the events such as those seen during the time of Cashgate.”
‘Fly without perching’
Also contributing to the support of the bill, Agness Nyalonje the MP for Mzimba North (PP) said the law has the ”potential” for strengthening procurement processes, especially at district council level.
“It is very sad when the few resources that are dedicated to local development are subjected to practices that actually divert those resources to where they are not intended to go,” Nyalonje said, adding that there is a practice which has been nick named in various quarters as the “10 per cent rule” – a surcharge put on top of procurement.
However, she observed that in Malawi “we have become very good at passing very good laws and then not following our own laws.”
She cited Chinua Achebe’s writings in particular one that says ‘when man learnt to shoot without missing, birds learnt to fly without perching’
“What I am saying Mr Speaker, Sir, is that it is our sincere hope that with this bill, we will not learn to circumvent our own laws and that we will follow to the letter what the bill intends to do.”
Contracts for locals
Boniface Kadzamira an Independent MP for Ntchisi North said he expects the law to “indeed regulate what happens in the field” and that the body will not eliminate the locals who are always left out when it comes to awarding of contracts.
He said “ it is pathetic to see that it is always foreigners dominating local contracts” saying the new institution should encourage Malawian entrepreneurs “to get involved in big businesses currently dominated by foreigners.”
Said Kadzamira: “ I want to see locals from Malomo and Mawiri in Ntchisi taking part in the supply of goods and services within the country. “
Finance Minister was delighted with the passing of the bill, saying it is long overdue a lot of Malawi resources are dispersed by the procurement people, “who frankly do not have standards against which they can be brought to book. So, this bill when passed will be doing just that and we need it very badly.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :