Namibia’s new Public Procurement Act aims to enforce transparency and “expose, reduce and eliminate corrupt or negligent practices”, the country’s president said in his annual New Year address.
President Hage Geingob said that any public tender awarded outside the terms of the act will be cancelled, “and those in transgression of the law held accountable”.
The legislation, based on the UN Commission on International Trade Law’s Model Law on Public Procurement, will regulate and harmonise procurement procedures for purchasing goods, works and services for all public entities across the southern African country.
A Procurement Policy Unit will be established in the Ministry of Finance, tasked with setting procurement standards, preparing guidelines and conducting training programmes on public procurement, among other responsibilities.
The legislation also adopts preferences for Namibian-produced goods and services, small and medium-sized enterprises and local suppliers and service providers.
The bidding process for public contracts will be conducted by a newly created Central Procurement Board of Namibia. This board will consist of nine members – three of whom must be female – appointed by the finance minister, and will enter into procurement contracts on behalf of public entities. It replaces the tender board set up under the Tender Board of Namibia Act 1996.
Public procurement under the current legislation has been described as a procurement function, and the new legislation aims to make procurement more strategic, linking it to the wider government’s socio-economic objectives under the Harambee Prosperity Programme.
The programme focuses on economic growth linked to enhanced transparency, accountability and performance management in government.
“The need for state institutions to act swiftly and effectively is greater than ever and this requires a renewed emphasis on competent, honest and accountable leadership at these institutions,” Geingob said.
He added that Namibia is vulnerable to external shocks which have materially negative consequences on the economy, including the global slump in commodity prices, exchange rate fluctuations and climate change.
“As a nation, we must ensure that we strengthen our economic ability to absorb these shocks,” he added. “My dream is to deliver on the prosperity promise through an efficient, transparent and accountable government.”
The act has been signed into law and will be “operationalised with urgency”, according to a statement from the president this week.