Unfavourable practices in the public procurement process, including the flagrant abuse of single-source contracts, are undermining the relevance of the process as a tool for national development and a level playing field in contract biddings, policy think-tank CUTS-Ghana has indicated.
The centre is therefore advocating a robust national competition policy and regulatory regime that will keep the malfeasances in check and enjoin managers of public funds to make intelligent decisions that maximise value for money.
Coordinator for the centre, Appiah Kusi Adomako, told journalists in Accra: “Competition policy and law is the wave of the future in ensuring that taxpayers get value for money. Among other benefits, it will curb the abuse of single-source contracts in the country and ensure a level playing field for bidders.
“A competitive procurement environment will ensure value for money in disbursements from the public purse, as it will provide wider choices for consumers, stimulate innovation and better service quality at competitive rates.”
And passage of the National Competition Policy, he said, will help curb the negative contributory factors of collusion between suppliers, price-fixing, abusive monopoly and deliberate mergers and acquisitions to crowd out weaker companies in the bidding process.
Public procurement is the process by which taxpayers’ money is used to purchase goods and services for used by and for the state, in a manner that promotes domestic capacity and innovation among sellers.
It has been estimated that about US$400billion per annum changes hands through corruption in public procurement around the world — that for Africa is US$127billion, more than the combined donor aid received from Europe, America and Asia.
In sub-Saharan Africa, it is reported that corruption exists in about 70% of public contracts, which inevitably lead to a rise of 20-30% in contract sums.
Even though data is not readily available on the Ghanaian situation, Mr. Adomako said: “The memories of SADA, Subah and GYEEDA speak a lot more than figures”.
He said competition is a fundamental tenet of a well-functioning economy, as it encourages companies to provide consumers with the products and services they want at lower prices with higher quality; and, most importantly, efficiency in allocation of resources.
“Where competition abounds, there is innovation, best possible choice of quality as well as better goods and services at lowest prices.
“Vigorous competition among suppliers also helps to enhance the economy by generating demand and consumption,” he said.
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