By Philip Buda Ladu
A government official is decrying the breeds of malpractices and mismanagement in the government institutions on lack of implementation of the Public Procurement and Asset Disposal Regulation Act.
The Deputy Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs, Justice Joseph Malek Arop made the remark yesterday at the opening of a 10 days validation workshop for Public Procurement and Disposal of Asset Regulation 2022, and Standard Procurement Document organized by the Ministry of Finance and Planning in Juba.
The Deputy Minister said that the Public Procurement and Asset Disposal Regulation Act 2022 is one of very important document that regulates government property especially fixed assets and current asset and procure the equipment and mobility to government institutions.
“This Act and Regulation must be applied to all government institutions because these days the malpractice and mismanagement of government assets and property mismanagement has become a threat to the country,” he said.
Justice Malek hinted that, lack of implementation of Public Procurement Act and the Regulation let government institutions into a lot of malpractice.
He said that there is mismanagement, citing example towards government lands which being sold to individuals in Central Equatoria.
The official stressed that, “these public assets are supposed to apply Public Procurement Act that weigh to disposal or auction the government property, not that if you are a Governor or a Minister you have right to do whatever you have to do avoiding Act or Regulation”.
The Deputy Minister of Justice emphasized that to minimize malpractice in government institutions; government officials should implement the regulation.
“This Act we have to implement seriously, we want to enforce and also our Hon. Members of Parliament they are supposed to take role of supervision because government institutions there are those who make malpractices due to ignorance of laws and also there are people who make it intentionally but this is a collective responsibility” said Malek
Meanwhile, Chairperson of Finance and Planning Specialized Committee at the Revitalized Transitional National Legislative Assembly (R-TNLA), ChangKuoth Bichiock Reth acknowledged the importance of the validation workshop on operationalization of the Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets Regulation Act 2022.
A Member of Parliament said that implementing the Act would provide a legal framework for establishing and governing an open, transparent, accountable and efficient system of Public Procurement and Disposal of Assets for all government institutions and related entities as indicated in the Act.
“This is crucial now that, there is relative peace in the country and a move towards a sustainable long-term development; there is a higher level of expenditure that needs openness, transparency and non-discriminatory action, required by legislation, meaning all requirements for supplies, services and works that exceed the value of thresholds defined in the Regulations are advertised and tendered in accordance with public rules,” he said.
Bichiock underlined that in the past, adhoc and insufficient procurement as well as assets disposal practices have cost a huge scale of money being lost as significant proportion of budget is channeled through procurement systems –even marginal savings decrease rapidly.
He reiterated that lack of transparency and discrepancies in procurement directly affect citizens and the however losses to discrepancies highly add up.
“Public procurement and asset disposal regulation address monopoly practices. Consequently, the procurement and asset disposal reform guided by Chapter 4 geared towards overall financial management reforms helps streamline processes, reduce material prices and cost identifying better sources of supply,” Bichiock noted.
He said Chapter II Section (7) (B) of the Act highlighting two key principles of –transparency and accountability, should be in the frontline of their public procurement and asset disposal policy implementation.
“The transparency principle requires that information regarding the procurement process be in public domain, meanwhile on accountability, officials of procuring agencies are clearly identifiable as well as their responsibilities; directly held accountable within the framework of the ministerial responsibility to government, Parliament and public” he said.
Bichiock stressed that the Parliament is committed to do its oversight role, saying 70 percent of the country’s budget goes to procurement and they need to work on that seriously.
The Public Procurement and Asset Disposal Regulation Bill was passed in 2017 and signed into law in 2019 but it was not operationalized till today, however Bichiock said the operationalization of the Act is their responsibility which they need to take it seriously into consideration.