PNG PROCUREMENT AGENCIES UNDER REFORM

By Yehiura Hriehwazi

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (The National, Nov. 5) - The National Parliament and the Papua New Guinea Defense Force supply and tender boards are to be abolished in a move aimed at stamping out corruption in the government departments.

Treasurer Bart Philemon is moving swiftly to plug weaknesses in the government's procurement process, which he says is one of the major causes of corruption.

He will abolish most of the national departments' supply and tenders boards and consolidate them into the main Central Supply and Tenders Board and restructure provincial tenders boards to operate under stringent rules of conduct.

Other national tender boards to be abolished include that of the Gaming Board, the government's supply and tender board in Sydney and the Jackson's Airport Re-development project's board. Those that will remain unaffected are tender boards for Bougainville and Gazelle Restoration and Pharmaceutical Supplies.

Mr Philemon announced yesterday that about K500 million is spent on goods and services with a "substantial" portion of that money "wasted as a result of corruption" in the provincial and national supply and tenders boards.

He said about K450 million (90 per cent) of this expenditure is determined by the Central Supply and Tenders Board.

Under proposed legislative changes to be introduced in the next session of Parliament, Mr Philemon has foreshadowed the following changes:

* Appointments to tenders boards will be on merit and appointees must act impartially;

* All national tenders boards will be consolidated under the Central Supply and Tenders Board with the exception of Bougainville and Gazelle restoration and Pharmaceutical supplies;

* Reduction in ministerial and political discretion to create national boards;

* Major institutional and structural changes to ensure that the tendering and procurement process of supply and tenders boards are transparent, accountable and that value for money is realised.

The changes were being made to ensure reduction of corruption and improve efficiency of the public sector procurement system, said Mr Philemon.

He said that out of the K500 million spent by government annually through the tendering process, a substantial fraction was wasted as a resulted of corruption, padding of contracts, accepting inappropriate tenders, inefficiencies such as failure to secure a reasonable price and failure to adequately specify what is required.

"The appointment process to the national and provincial supply and tenders boards has become politicised and appointments are sometimes made in the hope that the appointee favour particular parties," he said.

"This is a major source of corruption and inefficiency in the public service. It leads to contracts being inflated and to goods and services of a lower quality being purchased.

"The new system, when implemented, will appeal to the business community and provide concrete evidence to the people of Papua New Guinea, and PNG's development partners, that the Government is serious about addressing the issue of corruption and its fiscal problems.

"Failure to improve the government's procurement arrangements will be a stumbling block in the resumption of support from international multilateral agencies that have previously expressed a strong desire to see reforms made.

"Savings can be redirected into funding goods and services thereby improving the capacity of the public sector to deliver services in provinces and districts. Improving the operations of provincial supply and tenders board will restore faith in the operations of both provincial and national government," said Mr Philemon.

November 6, 2003

The National: www.thenational.com.pg/

 

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