10 April 2008 | Paul Snell
Christian Aid has criticised efforts to reform procurement in developing countries.
In a report Buying Power, the charity said while reforms of public purchasing were identified as important development tools, the benefits they bring were not clear.
"They are, however, most definitely succeeding in promoting procurement systems that increase opportunities for foreign firms," the study found.
The report revealed that despite a drive to increase accountability and transparency, donor countries trying to help with procurement reform look for a "quick fix", adopting standard laws. Christian Aid instead recommends efforts should be tailored to individual countries.
It also argued the donors' "narrow definition" of improving efficiency as "best quality at lowest cost" ignores the benefits open procurement processes can bring to local economies.
The charity advised the provision of long-term capacity building support to governments to help with reform. It also recommended adapting plans to fit individual nations, and to allow governments to be flexible about purchasing to promote local economies.