By Ragan M. Conteh
The National Public Procurement Authority (NPPA) on Tuesday 8th September 2020 unveiled the Public Procurement Manual document at the Atlantic Hall of the National Stadium Hostel in Freetown.
The ceremony was well attended by procurement practitioners from different Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) including their vote controllers.
Addressing procurement practitioners and members of different MDAs, the Chief Executive Officer of NPPA, Ibrahim Brima Swarray, said the Procurement Manual details the standards, policies and procedures which should be strictly followed in the procurement of goods works and services within the public sector.
The Chief Executive said the Manual also includes a section for guidance on contract administration, asset disposal, and complaints procedures relating to breaches in procurement procedures.
These standards, policies and procedures are designed, according to Mr. Swarray, to guide the procurement and asset disposal processes; provide uniform procedures for the procurement of goods, works and services and for asset disposal; ensure transparency and accountability in all procurement operations; ensure consistency with the guidelines of donors where necessary; improve the efficiency and effectiveness of operations; promote the consistent application of best procurement practices and international standards.
Mr. Swarray revealed that this Manual applies to the procurement operations of all institutions using public funds as defined in subsection (1) of Section 1 of the Public Procurement Act of 2016.
The Chief Executive pointed out that consistent application of the provisions and procedures of the Manual throughout government is essential to achieve improved efficiency, transparency, uniformity of documents and decisions as well as and reduced costs of procurement for the Government.
He pointed out that the Manual’s intention will be subjected to continuous upgrading by the National Public Procurement Authority (NPPA) to reflect amendments in legislation, changing needs, the commercial environment, and the adoption of new improved procedures and practices.
In his submission, the Centre for Accountability and the Rule of Law (CARL) CEO, Ibrahim Tommy, expressed thanks and appreciation to the management of NPPA, especially the Chief Executive, Mohamed Brima Swarray, for his relentless effort to ensure procurement procedures and regulations are followed strictly.
“The procurement manual is geared towards the ongoing efforts by the National Public Procurement Authority to close the gaps,” he said.
Ibrahim Tommy pointed out that NPPA, through the hard work of the Chief Executive, has, over the last two years, seen tremendous progress, especially with the review of the Procurement Act, Procurement Report and now the Procurement Manual.
He said the application of the provisions and procedures of the Manual, throughout government institutions, is essential to achieve improved efficiency, transparency, uniformity of documents and decisions as well as reduced costs of procurement for the Government.
Ibrahim Tommy pointed out that, in spite of unveiling the manual, there is a lot more to be done, and asked all MDAs to comply with the Manual, adding that, over the years, public funds have been lost through procurement irregularities.
NPPA Board Chairman, Mr. Alfred Kandeh, informed that the Procurement Manual is a very good venture, adding that the manual explains step by step examples which MDAs should follow.
He said many times, when people read the Act, it is full of ambiguities, adding that the NPPA manual will ensure procurement practitioners do things correctly.
The Board Chairman revealed that the manual is so important that it is a foundation for University students and admonished all to get into the habit of reading, comprehend and put into practice what is in the manual for transparent and accountable procurement.
The Deputy Commissioner of the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC), Mr. Augustine Foday-Ngobie, in his submission, informed authorities that the ACC is now partners with the NPPA, adding that the ACC have no doubt in procurement institutions upgrading their procurement manuals.
According to Mr. Augustine Foday-Ngobie, the unveiled manual is not just a matter of just reading it, it is also a matter of application, adding that Section 48 of the ACC Act frowns at MDAs not observing procurement procedures.
The Deputy Commissioner furthered that for people who are not observing the manual, especially the procedures in the document, are liable to pay the sum of Le50 million or a period of five years imprisonment.
He therefore said the ACC is well pleased with the work of the NPPA Chief Executive, Ibrahim Brima Swarray, and pledged the Commission’s continued collaboration with Mr. Swarray and team.
“Avoid using the past where procurement items are not needed,” Deputy ACC warned.
The Deputy Director of the Procurement Directorate in the Ministry of Finance, Fodie J. Konneh, and Director Budget Advocacy Network all made salient statements as to how government needs to be accountable in handling procurement activities.
According to Fodie J. Kanneh, the work for putting procurement manual has taken ten years, adding that within two years of Mohamed Brima Swarray the work has been done.
He concluded that the entire template, in the manual, gives a breakdown for their daily consumption.
NPPA Sylvester B. Allieu, who chaired the ceremony, said the manual guides the procurement to improve effectiveness and efficiency.