IPPR calls for autonomous procurement unit

Ogone Tlhage
The Institute for Public Policy and Research (IPPR) says the public procurement unit, which currently falls under the ministry of finance, should become a standalone entity if government is serious about dealing with corruption in the public sector.

Associate researcher Frederico Links said it would help improve accountability and ensure that the Public Procurement Act achieves its objectives with regards to compliance in the procurement space. “Our stance has always been that this should have been an independent unit outside the ministry of finance. When the Procurement Act is amended, the public procurement unit [PPU] should be hived off into an autonomous entity.” An independent unit would be able to do its work without much political interference, he added.

According to Links, strengthening of the role of PPU director to executive director level would also help elevate the stature of the unit. “You cannot have the director of this unit making demands for evidence to executive directors in ministries, executives in public entities, because those executives will not see the director of the PPU at the same level as them. So, you can just see how they will not respond,” he said.


The IPPR researcher further noted that the unit is limited in its ability to ensure compliance to laws regulating procurement, citing a recent ministry of health bid for the supply of pharmaceutical supplies, which has since been cancelled by the Central

Procurement Board of Namibia.

The PPU is not delivering on its intended purpose, Links added. “The governance shortfalls in this space are threatening to derail the good that is supposed to come out of this new dispensation following on from the old Tender Board system.”

PPU director Francois Brand admitted that the unit is limited in acting out in its role fully, adding that this could be addressed by equipping it better. “Much of what we need to do will require potentially more resources. The amount of investigations that we could potentially do [currently] would be quite limited.”