NRA calls for procurement reforms

NEO SENOKO

MASERU – The National Reforms Authority (NRA) has called for the inclusion of public procurement in the constitution in a move that would distance its operations from undue influence, pressures and contamination emanating from vested interests. Public procurement in the country is viewed as the seedbed of graft tainted by ineffectiveness and corrupt tendencies which has been a matter of concern and subject to controversy, particularly among Basotho service providers and suppliers.

It is perceived, historically as unfair, biased, outright corrupt and entirely poorly managed. The NRA believes including it in the constitution would be the best way to put to an end challenges that have existed for a long time. “The objective of establishing an independent and autonomous public procurement authority is to enable meticulous and systematic compliance with domestically and internationally acceptable principles, practices and standards”, the NRA Economic Sector Reforms Committee said while tabling its report during the 16th meeting of the reforms.

It said it would also bring credibility and dependability to the Lesotho public procurement process. If well implemented, the NRA said the Public Procurement Authority would, among other things, be capable of holding, purchasing or otherwise acquiring, maintaining and disposing of any property, movable and immovable, for purposes of or in the course of carrying out its functions.

It shall carry out its functions and discharge responsibilities with fairness, integrity and cost effectiveness as well as ensuring high quality and equitable treatment of service providers, suppliers and clients.

“In performing its functions, the authority shall take into account the need for sustainable and inclusive socio-economic development and good governance processes,” said the NRA’s committee report. “It shall be accountable to parliament through the minister responsible for finance”.

Among some of its other functions, the authority shall formulate policies, rules and regulations, guidelines, procedures for public procurement of goods, works and services as well as supervise procurement processes. The committee has also recommended the same approach towards the office of the accountant general, in that all departments relevant to the public accounting function including debt management be placed under the office of the accountant general.

It would enable the accountant general to attend to the full spectrum of the scope encompassing the national balance sheet. The office, according to the committee should be capacitated to enable it to carry out functions, roles and responsibilities punctually, meticulously and comprehensively as well as enabling tightening of controls within the system and streamlining workflow.

It said the accountant general should be empowered to be responsible for the entire accountancy cadre in the public service. The office should manage liquidity of government, the level and composition of public debt, government guarantees and other financial obligations of government. The office should further be capacitated to ensure timely payment of suppliers, service providers, international membership subscriptions and other government obligations.

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