House passes Public Procurement and Disposal of Assets Bill

Written by  Gladys Nthenda

Members of Parliament on Wednesday passed the Public Procurement and Disposal of Assets Bill with amendments to the piece of legislation.

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The Bill was tabled on 12 December 2016 and referred to the Joint Committees of Budget and Finance Legal Affairs and Industry Trade and Tourism Committees for further recommendations and scrutiny.

 

It among others sought to repeal the Public Procurement Act of 2003 which had shortfalls hence necessitating the review.

 

Presenting the Report Chairperson of the Joint Committees Rhino Chiphiko informed members that the Bill will promote transparency, accountability and regulate disposal of public assets whilst empowering Malawians with information on how the assets are disposed off.

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He noted that the previous Act mandated the President to appoint the Director of Public Procurement which led to a public outcry as it compromised the independence of the Office.

 

Chiphiko explained that the 3 Committees are for the appointment of a Board or an Authority which will have powers overseeing the disposal of public assets especially when dealing with huge amounts of money.

 

He among others cited the issue of cashgate where some of those involved haven’t been brought to book and was optimistic the passing of the Bill would help in checking corruption and fraud.

 

On the evaluation of bids which was previously done by Internal Procurement Committees of government ministries and departments the Committees proposed that this should be done by experts.

 

He nonetheless applauded government for presenting the Bill before the House a development Chiphiko viewed as a milestone in clamping corrupt practices in the disposal of public assets.

 

The Committee Chair also lamented that most government enterprises are run by foreigners and called on the need to put in place deliberate provisions to enable Malawians own small and medium entities.

 

According to Chiphiko members also expressed concern over single sourcing of government enterprises arguing that this kills competition.

They however felt this should only be allowed during emergencies such as floods or drought.

 

Supporting the motion Lilongwe North East legislator Maxwell Thyolera cited lack of sanctions on offenders and the Director’s independence from any form of interference as some of the challenges encountered in the disposal of public enterprises.

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Thyolera who is also Chairperson of the Legal Affairs Committee justified the amendments which he said are aimed at making the Office of the Director of Public Procurement more independent and in restoring donor’s confidence.

 

Minister of Finance Goodall Gondwe commended the 3 Committees for scrutinizing the Bill in line with challenges encountered in disposing of government assets.

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He pointed out that government is charged with the responsibility of unearthing and addressing fraud and corruption in the public service.

Gondwe described the legislation as fundamental and crucial in combating corruption in the country.

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