14 July 2010 | Nick Martindale
The Swaziland parliament is close to passing the Public Procurement Reform Bill, which the government believes will ensure greater efficiency and competition and ensure project costs do not over-run.
The bill, which is expected to become law by the end of August, will also require the creation of the Swaziland Public Procurement Regulatory Agency, an independent body which will develop and regulate government buying policy.
Sizakele Masuku, director of corporate services and supply chain management at the Ministry of Finance, said: “Public sector buyers will now have a more transparent procurement system. With transparency and competition there are bound to be savings.
“The new system introduces procurement planning which means that projects will be executed and advertised on time. In the past a number of projects were not completed on time, which cost money.
“The system also does not make room for price increases. We are now saying that projects must be delivered on time and to the agreed price.”
The bill is the culmination of a wider government initiative to improve public sector procurement which has been running since 2006.
This has included drawing up contracts for commonly used commodities and the establishment of a new Technical Secretariat within the Ministry of Finance to act as a centre of excellence.
International consultancy Crown Agents has been working with the government on reforming its procurement set-up. For example, since May 2009, it has supported the Ministry of Health and Central Medical Stores to improve procurement practices for annual pharmaceutical and medical supply framework contracts.