Procurement includes acquiring services for developing infrastructure. Rebecca Nduku / © Commonwealth Secretariat
4 October 2012
"Taxpayers want to see their taxes spent reasonably. All these make public procurement so important and therefore a subject of tight scrutiny because where large sums of money are involved, vulnerability to abuse increases" - Tanzania Deputy Minister of Finance
A Commonwealth Africa conference opened yesterday (Wednesday, 3 October) in Tanzania with member countries focusing on the reforms needed to improve the purchase and delivery of quality goods and services for citizens.
During the three-day Commonwealth Public Procurement Network (CPPN) conference in Dar es Salaam, government officials from procurement agencies across the region will examine practical ways they can improve their public financial and procurement systems for the sustainable and efficient delivery of services to improve lives and stimulate economic growth.
“The wider public is interested in the delivery of services in an efficient, effective and economic manner. Taxpayers want to see their taxes spent reasonably. All these make public procurement so important and therefore a subject of tight scrutiny because where large sums of money are involved, vulnerability to abuse increases,” said Saada Mykuya Salum, Tanzania Deputy Minister of Finance, in her opening address on Wednesday.
The CPPN was established by the Commonwealth Secretariat in 2006 to promote sharing and learning among heads and senior procurement officials within Commonwealth member countries. The network also provides insight on areas where the Commonwealth Secretariat can channel its technical assistance.
Reforming procurement systems aids the effective and efficient delivery of government projects and programmes and facilitates socio-economic development capable of alleviating poverty and under-development. In recent years, CPPN member countries have undertaken procurement reforms aimed at ensuring transparent, fair and efficient public procurement systems capable of achieving the best value for money.
Ms Salum stressed that public procurement is increasingly emerging as an important agenda in all countries and she urged the organisers to share the conference outcomes and the CPPN’s work programme with Commonwealth finance ministers and Heads of Government.
During the conference participating countries will share their experiences of reforming procurement systems and discuss intensifying efforts against corruption and engaging civil society in monitoring processes. They will also examine the potential benefits, challenges and constraints of implementing pooled public procurement systems in sub-regions.
On Friday a panel will explore the current thinking in public procurement and review what steps are being adopted by countries to address green and socially responsible procurement. Some of the critical questions will focus on whether countries are becoming a dumping ground for poor quality products, and is enough being done to prevent abuse of employment, health and safety laws.
The conference theme, ‘Public Procurement Reform Strategies: Achieving Effective and Sustainable Outcomes in Commonwealth African Countries’, underscores the Commonwealth objective to ensure that procurement systems allow member governments to deliver quality services in a timely manner while still adhering to their fundamental basic principles.