Tender for supply of friendlier laws? The main entrance to the National Assembly. Members will debate the amendments to the Public Procurement Act in January. Picture: LEONARD MAGOMBA By JOSEPH MWAMUNYANGE (email the author) THE EAST AFRICAN Posted Monday, November 30 2009 at 00:00 The Tanzania government is reviewing the countrys procurement laws to make them more conducive to the prevailing environment. Sticking points include the tendering process which takes a long time to be completed under the current Act, at times resulting in increased costs by those intending to execute projects. The EastAfrican has learnt that in some cases donors who would have provided funding to development projects have developed cold feet after the project implementation costs overshoot their original budget due to delays occasioned by the rigorous tendering process. In the recent past, for instance, politicians and other interested groups have pushed for the purchase of second-hand power generation equipment formerly used by Richmond Development Company. The company had suggested that the government could purchase the generators for use during the power load-shedding period which ended last week (November 24). But this would not have been possible under the current law. Also, the generators were brought into the country under dubious circumstances, which cost two ministers and the Premier their jobs. Mustafa Mkulo, the Minister for Finance and Economic Affairs, said in Dar es Salaam last week that the government was in the final stages of preparing the necessary amendments to the Public Procurement Act, 2004. The Act has faced heavy criticism for some time now. Mr Mkulo said there is high likelihood that the expected amendments will be tabled in parliament in January. According to the minister, most of the complaints against the Act come from the public, the donor community, the (countrys) regional administrations and other institutions. However, the changes will not affect the effectiveness of the Public Procurement Regulatory Authority (PPRA) Act, 2004, he said, because the intention is to accommodate only those issues that are constantly being raised. We want to make sure that the law continues to provide effective controls, and aims at quality and efficiency. It (PPRA Act, 2004) will not bring about a situation whereby you have controls without efficiency and effectiveness, said Mr Mkulo. He said nothing will be compromised by the amendments, as they will maintain high standards. The amendments will make sure that the law doesnt act as a disincentive to development, he said. The people behind the Richmond scandal have been arraigned in court. A Parliamentary Committee tasked to investigate and recommend action to be taken against anybody found to have played a role in the scandal recommended stern measures including reprisals. It advised the premier to weigh what had been discovered by the probe after which he tendered his resignation. Some of the recommendations that were taken on board by parliament include resolution No. 2, which wanted the PPRA to operate as an independent procuring entity answerable to the Presidents Office and not the Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs. This is expected to be one of the amendments to be made to the Public Procurement Act 2004 once parliament convenes in January. Mr Mkulo, however, declined to comment on this issue. The government said that once the Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs is through with the necessary paperwork, it will present it to the Parliamentary Committee on Finance and Economy, which will then make suggestions. Depending on what they recommend, the matter will go to Cabinet and, finally, to the parliamentary draftsman, said Mr Mkulo. Many people are looking forward to the changes. Among the groups that have welcomed the recommendations is the Confederation of Tanzania Industries (CTI). Its chief economist, Hussein Kamote, told The EastAfrican that they had engaged a consultant to research on the effects of the Procurement Act on local businesses. He said that after the study, CTI made some recommendations to the government for possible inclusion in the amendments, based on what our members complained about, which was the negative side of the Procurement Act The CTI said countries in the Far East make headway on economic development because they dont succumb to pressure by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund to apply strict and lengthy procurement procedures. Procurement is mainly a business issue, but IMF and WB insist that it should, as a policy, be transparent.