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By Eric Naki

Political Editor

Quality concerns over Public Procurement Bill

The Public Procurement Bill centralises procurement to fight corruption, yet concerns persist about the quality of goods and services provided.

Although the recently passed Public Procurement Bill is seen as a safeguard against corruption and wasteful expenditure, there is still concern about its failure to address the quality of goods or services delivered by service providers.

The law set no clear parameters for standards of services and goods expected from those who win state contracts.

The new legislative framework merely moved the approach from peripheral to centralised procurement and only considered the avoidance of graft and waste.

However, some pinned their hopes on regulations, to be developed, to govern service standards.

Legislation criticised

Earlier, the legislation was criticised by sectoral concerns for its potential to hinder infrastructure delivery, while some feared it would undermine black economic empowerment.

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But Minister of Finance Enoch Godongwana assured both sides that these would ensure the law catered for their needs.

The legislation provided for a single public procurement system for the state, with National Treasury as the central procurer on behalf of all state entities.

The new system required that public procurement processes support local content and broad-based black economic empowerment.

This was a move away from the current approach where goods and services were procured separately by government departments, municipalities and state-owned enterprises.

Bill sequel to consensus reached at Nedlac

The Bill is a sequel to consensus reached by social partners at the National Economic Development and Labour Council (Nedlac), that proposed a single national procurement system be implemented.

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One of Nedlac’s partners, the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu), believed the old system was open to abuse, corruption and wasteful expenditure. It welcomed the passing of the legislation into law.

Cosatu acting national spokesperson Matthew Parks said it was satisfied that the system would enable the centralised procurement of certain key items to help the state save funds and avoid wasteful expenditure and easily detect corruption.

The federation commended the National Council of Provinces for its insertion of public disclosure and recording of any relatives of politically influential persons who receive state tenders.

It said this would prevent the abuse of public procurement by persons in senior office.

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