PPADB wants parastatals to follow its procurement procedures: PPADB Executive Director, Bridget Poppy John
Parastatals and other quasi-government institutions have been urged to exercise due diligence in public procurement so that government as the biggest buyer of goods and services in the economy gets the most reasonable and competitive fair price.
Legal Counsel at Competition Authority (CA), Kesego Modongo, told attendants at a workshop organised by Public Procurement and Assets Disposal (PPADB) that it is crucial to have vigorous competition among suppliers since it helps government to obtain the best value for money for the goods and services they procure.
He asserted that when competition is curtailed taxpayers’ money is wasted as governments pay more than a fair price. Modongo defined bid rigging as fraud and conspiracy against society since it is costly to the society.
Briefing the attendants, who formed part of their respective institutions’ Tender Committees Modongo explained that bid rigging occurs when bidders agree among themselves to eliminate competition in the procurement process, thereby denying the public a fair price.
He said in the past, the CA registered a number of cases relating to bid-rigging and warned that proper detection is needed in order to curb this kind of mischief in public procurement.
Modongo stated that bidders can eliminate competition in public procurement in many simple ways like by agreeing to submit a non-competitive bid that is too high to be accepted or contains terms that are unacceptable to the buyer, or in some instances competitors agreeing not to bid.
According to him, in some instances some companies chose to withdraw a bid from consideration or agree to submit bids only in certain geographic areas or only to certain public organizations.
The legal Counsel also noted that although the schemes used by firms to rig bids vary; the intention is to eliminate competition so that prices are higher and the government pays more.
However, he said finding signs of possible bid rigging do not necessarily mean that bid rigging is occurring; it simply shows that there may be a problem. In this instance, the best thing for procurement officials to do is to contact the CA to investigate the signs detected.
Parastatals were also implored to review the bidding process and the bids carefully, looking for any additional signs of possible bid rigging. And to achieve that, procuring entities were advised not tell any of the bidders about their concerns, as this may result in the destruction of evidence. Instead the procuring entity should make sure that detailed notes, records and documents are kept safe.
Procuring entities were further urged to be careful when dealing with a small number of bidders since the probability of bid rigging is higher if there are a few bidders. Attendants were told bid rigging requires bidders to reach an agreement that eliminates competition.
Modongo said Tender Committees should not be out-smarted by bidders as procurement is very important to the development of any economy, particularly a developing one like Botswana.
The Tender Committees were also implored to devise a mechanism of monitoring whether the bidders have had the opportunity to communicate with each other, and look for any relationships among the bidders after the successful bid is announced.
Examples of bid rigging investigated by CA in the past include the Security Tender Case in which the bidders were found to be having identical telephone contacts, the Sugar Beans Case, and the Infant Formula Milk Case.
Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) official, Oreemetse Dipatane said corruption remains a concern in Botswana’s economy and public procurement is one area where corruption is rife.
Part of the problem, as observed by Dipatane is poor service delivery as citizens may elect to use bribery to receive favour in terms of service offering. In leadership positions, corruption is motivated by greed and the power of influence in decision making.
PPADB Divisional Manager-Works, Dudu Thebe advised parastatals Tender Committees against “exclusive rights” bidding where the procuring entity specifies the type of the brand they want in the Invitation To Tender (ITT) documents since this would automatically eliminate a number of competitors.
Parastatals were also advised to implement government policies in their procurement to ensure that locals are especially small business and those in the informal sector benefit from the public procurement.
The Local Procurement Scheme (LPS) dictates that preference be introduced in tenders falling within the financial threshold of the District Administration Tenders (DATCs), currently at P2 million to P4.5 million.
The purpose of the scheme is to empower the disadvantaged groups, namely, the youth, people with disabilities, women and rural suppliers through public procurement preferential treatment.
The PPADB Act gives procuring entities to purchase or get services from suppliers for the services with a value less than P30 000. Thebe however advised them to have a list of suppliers in their data base and also implored them to make an effort to engage different service or goods providers.
However, what has proved to be a concern across all parastatals is that, quasi-government institutions are faced by a problem of lack of adequate knowledge and technical skills relating to procurement.
PPADB has been engaging different stakeholders in capacity building workshops in an effort to instil integrity in public procurement. Last year, PPADB engaged all government ministries Tender Committees in a similar workshop.
PPADB, DCEC and CA officially launched a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in which they will cooperate against bid rigging and collusive tendering in 2011.
According to the OECD, of all government activities, public procurement is considered one of the most vulnerable to fraud and corruption. Therefore government policies and procedures in public procurement remain integral as weak governance in public procurement hinders market competition and raises the price paid by the administration for goods and services, directly impacting public expenditures and therefore taxpayers’ resources.
Corruption has severe impacts in developing countries like Botswana where public procurement accounts to more than 70 percent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
Botswana Police Service (BPS) has indicated concern about the ongoing trend where the general public falls victim to criminals purporting to be police officers.
According to BPS Assistant Commissioner, Dipheko Motube, the criminals target individuals at shopping malls and Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) where upon approaching the unsuspecting individual the criminals would pretend to have picked a substantial amount of money and they would make a proposal to the victims that the money is counted and shared in an isolated place.
“On the way, as they stop at the isolated place, they would start to count and sharing of the money, a criminal syndicate claiming to be Criminal Investigation Department (CID) officer investigating a case of stolen money will approach them,” said Motube in a statement.
The Commissioner indicated that the fake police officers would instruct the victims to hand over all the cash they have in their possession, including bank cards and Personal Identification Number (PIN), the perpetrators would then proceed to withdraw money from the victim’s bank account.
Motube also revealed that they are also investigating a case in which a 69 year old Motswana woman from Molepolole- who is a victim of the scam- lost over P62 000 last week Friday to the said perpetrators.
“The Criminal syndicate introduced themselves as CID officers investigating a case of robbery where a man accompanying the woman was the suspect.’’
They subsequently went to the woman’s place and took cash amounting to over P12 000 and further swindled amount of P50 000 from the woman’s bank account under the pretext of the further investigations.
In addition, Motube said they are currently investigating the matter and therefore warned the public to be vigilant of such characters and further reminds the public that no police officer would ask for bank cards and PINs during the investigations.
Botswana Congress Party (BCP) leadership walked out of Umbrella for Democratic Change (UDC) National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting this week on account of being targeted by other cooperating partners.
UDC meet for the first time since 2020 after previous futile attempts, but the meeting turned into a circus after other members of the executive pushed for BCP to explain its role in media statements that disparate either UDC and/or contracting parties.
The Director General of the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crimes (DCEC), Tymon Katlholo’s spirited fight against the contentious transfers of his management team has forced the Office of the President to rescind the controversial decision. However, some insiders suggest that the reversal of the transfers may have left some interested parties with bruised egos and nursing red wounds.
The transfers were seen by observers as a badly calculated move to emasculate the DCEC which is seen as defiant against certain objectionable objectives by certain law enforcement agencies – who are proven decisionists with very little regard for the law and principle.