Honeymoon over for briefcase firms

Honeymoon over for briefcase firms
Finance and Economic Development, Minister Patrick Chinamasa

Finance and Economic Planning, Minister Patrick Chinamasa

FINANCE and Economic Planning Minister, Patrick Chinamasa, has warned State entities and local authorities against awarding tenders to briefcase companies.
Chinamasa accused the State Procurement Board (SPB) of awarding tenders to briefcase companies, increasing the cost of doing business in the country.
The SPB was replaced by the Procurement Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (PRAZ) following the promulgation of the Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Asset Act in January. He said there had been collusion between SPB officials and the briefcase companies in the awarding of tenders.
The new Act decentralised public procurement to procuring entities such as parastatals, line ministries and local authorities, representing a paradigm shift from the SPB era.
“As a country, we have learnt the hard way that corruption is counter-productive and tends to prejudice the entire country of development opportunities across all sectors,” Chinamasa said at a national procurement meeting held in the capital last week, which was organised by Buy Zimbabwe.
“Emphasis is now on effective service delivery underpinned by a robust procurement system based on integrity. We have decentralised the procurement system to parastatals and local authorities. In the past, tenders of certain threshold were being handled by SPB, and there were challenges in delays, efficiencies and alleged corruptions. Now we have decentralised to State entities and local authorities and the people to be arrested (for corruption) are the people in these entities. I say to the chief executive officers of State entities, you should take the department of procurement seriously because it’s going to be the capital city of corruption in your organisation. This department will make or unmake your organisation. They are going to form
their own companies and prices will be inflated.
“The business of dealing with briefcase companies is over. You must carry out due diligence. Most of these briefcase companies, which the SPB registered and awarded tenders in the past, don’t have offices, and the frustration is that they don’t even have the goods they claim to have. They source these goods from somewhere and charge higher prices. With this new procurement order, we say no to briefcase businesses or these middle people, whose only contribution is to hike prices.”
Chinamasa said all local authorities and parastatals were expected to ensure that they received value for money in procurement decision making.
“Government recognises that procurement is a strategic policy lever for effective delivery of public goods and services.
“Procurement must be effected in a manner that is transparent, fair, honest, cost effective and competitive. It seeks to provide fair and equitable treatment of all bidders leading to procurement contracts that represent good value for money,” said the minister, adding that integrity in procurement entailed avoiding undue influence, conflict of interest and corruption in public procurement.
“Section 16 of the Act is very specific on the responsibility of the procurement decision making in the public sector. It provides role clarity and mechanisms to limit authorities such as ministers, board members and councillors from influencing procurement decisions. Contracts should not be awarded on partisan grounds,” he said, further adding that the new law discriminates in favour of local players and suppliers in every contract.
“I am please to advise that the new procurement Act supports domestic preference in the sense that when evaluating bids, a procuring entity may give preference to competitive bids from Zimbabwean or local suppliers and manufacturers.”
Chinamasa, however, warned procuring entities: “By tirelessly advocating for consumption of local products, government and Buy Zimbabwe are in no way advocating for blind adherence to domestic products. In fact, we are all for the enhancement of our local competitiveness in terms of pricing, delivery, quality and packaging. Gone are the days when mediocrity could be tolerated.”



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