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A bill overhauling public procurement in Namibia is currently passing through the National Assembly.
The Public Procurement Bill would create a Central Procurement Board to centralise the management of high-value contracts across the public sector, while a review panel would give aggrieved bidders a route for redress without having to go to the courts.
Minister of finance Saara Kuugongelwa-Amadhila said as she tabled the bill: “The intention is to provide for the speedy resolution of such complaints, which will minimise the frequency of bidders’ recourse to court actions.”
The bill also seeks to stimulate economic growth by giving preference to local businesses and socially disadvantaged groups, according to the state-owned New Era newspaper.
The new law also repeals the Tender Board Act of 1996, which is described as “no longer sufficient or adequate to achieve the country’s developmental objectives”.
Unlike the tender board, which dealt with almost all public sector contracts, the new board would only deal with contracts over a certain threshold value, with lower value contracts dealt with by the public body concerned.
The board will be made up of nine members appointed by the minister of finance for a term of three years. Currently tender board members are permanent secretaries from ministries but the new board will be made up of “industry experts”.
The bill also creates a ‘procurement committee’ to “provide proper structure” for contract management below the board threshold and a Procurement Policy Office to advise the finance minister on policies, guidelines and standards, and to investigate and disqualify suppliers.
The newspaper said the new law would “enforce practical compliance by eliminating loopholes through which unwanted practices creep in”.