ACC Commissioner calls for integrity in Public Procurement
The Commissioner of the Anti-Corruption Commission, Mr. Joseph F.Kamara has called for integrity in procurement process of Government Ministries, Departments and Agencies. He made this pronouncement in a two day National Seminar organized by the National Public Procurement Authority on the 6th June, 2014. The aim of the training workshop was to enhance compliance to procurement laws by Local Council Procurement Stakeholders and was attended by Mayors, Chairpersons, and Procurement and Finance officers of the nineteen Local Councils of Sierra Leone at the Bo District Council Hall in Bo City.
Delivering his statement, the Commissioner for the Anti –Corruption Commission elucidated on Professionalism and codes of ethics in public procurement which he described are the “Two wheels of the chariot of integrity”. He said the two are very critical in promoting integrity in the management of procurement processes as government and institutions seeks to find answers to why and how does ethical and professional issues occur in procurement and what can be done to mitigate misconduct in procurement.
The Commissioner explained that corruption has eaten into the very fabric of public procurement and as result government loses huge resources. He outlined the factors that undermine integrity and public confidence in the procurement by government institutions.” Bribery and kickbacks, conflict of interest, clientelism, overpayment, falsification of invoices and damage to records or books of accounts to avoid compliance with law are major deterrents to effective public procurement” he stated. ( major issues that affect public confidence in public procurement)
The causes of corruption in public procurement were also highlighted by the Commissioner. He stated that the perceived value of personal benefits and low degree of professional integrity are major causes of corruption. He explained that in developing countries the salaries of public officials and workers are low, and necessity may help explain why corruption occurs. However, he lamented that it may be difficult to discern where needs end and greed begins. He added that low risk of sanctions also encourages corruption.
In order to ensure integrity in public procurement, the Commissioner called on entities to promote transparency and accountability in the procurement process, strengthen internal controls and adopt professional and ethical framework that will ensure high standards of ethics and professional conduct.
Speaking on transparency in procurement, he stated amongst other things, that the process must be opened to public scrutiny and officials must take responsibility for decisions. On strengthening internal controls, he said they mitigates risks and provides reasonable assurance in management operations. Entities must put in place systematic process and adequate capability to assess and use results to adjust management systems in a cost effective manner.
The commissioner highlighted the minimum standards in procurement that procurement authorities should follow. He said authorities should implement and comply with codes of conduct, procurement regulations and define strict anti-corruption policies.
The Commissioner also enlightened the participants about the various offences relating to procurement in the Anti-Corruption Act of 2008. Amongst the offences discussed were ‘abuse of public office’ and ‘Bid rigging’ for which he sighted section 32 (1) of the Ant. He further shed light upon section 48(2) which deals with ‘failure to comply with procurement laws or regulations’. He cautioned participants against circumventing procurement regulations and expressed plans to engage NPPA on procurement matters.
In conclusion, he made references to practical examples of major corruption incidents across the world and discussed lessons learned. He called on all to maintain integrity in procurement and say no to corruption.
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