Columnists

Ethical procurement holds key to Kenya’s fast growth, honour

tax

Summary

  • Public service involves public trust. Citizens expect government officials to serve the public interest with fairness and to manage public resources properly.
  • Fair and reliable public services inspire public trust and create a favourable environment for businesses, thus contributing to economic growth.
  • Ethics in public procurement is a prerequisite to, and underpin public trust and is a keystone of good governance.

Public service involves public trust. Citizens expect government officials to serve the public interest with fairness and to manage public resources properly.

Fair and reliable public services inspire public trust and create a favourable environment for businesses, thus contributing to economic growth. Ethics in public procurement is a prerequisite to, and underpin public trust and is a keystone of good governance.

Corruption and public funds mismanagement involving governors, MPs, MCAs and other public office holders obliterates the gains the government is trying to achieve.

The culture of corruption exhibited by procuring entities has grown roots in Kenya and is becoming endemic.

Public procurement in Kenya has been marred by, among others, bribery, conflict of interest, and political patronage.

Public institutions entrusted with upholding public interest and utmost compliance to public procurement regulations such as the CDF, counties, ministries and departments are being used instead for personal enrichment by public officials.

Corruption is entrenched in Kenya because politicians and bureaucrats and other corrupt private agents (individuals, groups, and businesses) benefit from it. The persistence of corruption points to the fact that something is wrong with our moral upbringing starting from the family unit. Corruption has been our way of life as a people. People celebrate corrupt leaders. When politicians are indicted of corrupt dealings, the story soon changes to political witch-hunt.

According to EACC, unethical procurement practices involve, bribes paid to expedite payments, inflation of commodity prices, tampering with documents of other bidders among others. PPOA, notes that bribery known locally “kicking backs’,”Chai” ,“pesa ya wazee” is a portion of a contract payment to government or party officials or to employees of the other contracting party, close relatives, friends or business partners or using intermediaries such as agents, subcontractors, consultants or other third parties. Procurement corruption is a characteristic of bad governance within the procuring entity. The huge sum of money lost through corrupt deals in public procurement implies that, someone is either abusing his/her office or it’s utterly an act of sheer perpetuation of impunity.” The uta-du what?(what will you do?)” mentality. Public procurement world over has been subjected to legislative regulations and reforms, despite this, it has failed to address the influence of politics on public procurement.

Political contestations are merely to control public resources and sadly not to serve the people. The BBI report should have identified political patronage as one the reasons why holding a political office in Kenya is such a lucrative business. Political office gives its holder power to influence government tenders at will. Various research studies have indicated that most accounting officers of government institutions use their executive authority to employ cronies, kin, friends, and members of their tribes to head crucial departments like public procurement in order to maintain indirect control. Such appointees are then used to perpetuate tender corruption through undue influence of procurement process, coercion, price inflations, supply mismanagement and theft. The principles of good governance as contained in Chapter 6 of the Constitution.

New Constitution of Kenya on Leadership and Integrity, if properly implemented, will help to address political patronage-related challenges facing public procurement sector in Kenya. Procuring entities therefore must establish effective and efficient procurement processes and strictly adhere to PPDA Act, 2015 and procurement regulations. This includes promoting fair competition, use of technology like E-procurement-tendering-sourcing platforms etc. Procuring entities are required by the PPDA,2015 to prepare procurement plans; advertise tender notices; disclosure of evaluation criteria in solicitation documents; publication of contract awards and prices paid; establishing appropriate and timely complaint/ protest/dispute mechanisms; implementing financial and conflict of interest disclosure requirements for public procurement officials; and publishing supplier sanction lists. Fair Competition in public tendering is a key factor in ensuring that governments, and their citizens, receive best value for money in their procurement process.