The Public Procurement Regulatory Authority (PPRA) has barred more than 300 firms and individual consultants from participating in public procurement activities because of fraud and corruption.
The latest ban by the procurement watchdog mainly targeted foreign firms, suppliers and construction companies blacklisted or barred (by a foreign country, international organisation, or other foreign institution) from taking part in public procurement activities.
“We are not ready to engage corrupt foreign companies and firms in our domestic public procurement,” said PPRA chief executive officer Ramadhan Mlinga when he briefed the press on resolutions of the watchdog’s extraordinary board meeting held on Tuesday.
The Procurement Act number 21 of 2004, Section 57, gives the authority powers to debar firms or individuals, who have been banned by international organisations and foreign companies for fraud, corruption or breach of contract.
“On the basis of its mandate, the PPRA at its 46th extraordinary meeting held on July 10, this year, debarred 358 firms (including their directors) and individuals from participating in public procurement in the country,” PPRA CEO told a news conference yesterday in Dar es Salaam.
Out of those blacklisted firms, according to the watchdog top official, 345 firms and individuals have been debarred by the World Bank for fraud or corruption, while 13 others have been debarred by Uganda’s Public Procurement and Disposal Authority for fraud, corruption or breach of contract.
Debarred firms include one local firm and 357 foreign firms/individuals, noted Mlinga, adding that, “they are banned for a specified time from participating in public procurement”.
He explained that 246 firms have been debarred for a period of between one and ten years, 18 firms and individuals for a period of more than ten years, while 94 firms and individuals have been debarred permanently.
The debarment, according to the CEO, also targeted directors and subsidiary companies of the debarred firms, cautioning public entities to exercise “due diligence” in ensuring that tenders are not awarded to the firms owned by the blacklisted directors or their subsidiary companies.
Clarifying, the PPRA chief said while the blacklisted supplier, contractor or consultant is not allowed to start new supply, contracting or consulting firm during the debarment period, the latest debarment does not apply to ongoing contracts and on tenders where letters of acceptance have been issued to successful bidders before July 10, this year (the date of PPRA’s board decision).
Debarred firms are Oxford Universities Press Limited, China Communications Construction Company Limited, and China Geo-Engineering Corporation, which have been banned for 7 years, 10 years, and 7 years, respectively.
Stressing on the penalty, PPRA board of directors vice-chairman retired Judge Thomas Mihayo said, “There were also firms from Uganda and other East African countries which have been banned in their countries and internationally for malpractices including corruption, but they want to use regional integration as an umbrella to engage in the country’s public procurement. We spotted and debarred them.”
He advised public entities and the general public to support the PPRA in its war against fraud and corruption in public procurement in order to ensure that the public gets value for money out of public funds’ expenditure.
Other blacklisted firms and individuals include, Vital Supplies and Logistics ltd (Uganda), Dhema Agencies Ltd (Uganda), Rogers Segawa (Uganda) and Nexus Uganda Ltd (Uganda).
Others are: Eastern Builders and Engineers Ltd (Uganda), Mr Gurdyal Singh (Uganda), Babcon Uganda Ltd (Uganda), Mr Allan Makabayi (Uganda), Broadway Engineering Services Ltd (Uganda) and John B. Katende (Uganda).
This is second time the watchdog is sidelining firms over irregularities in their undertakings. Last month PPRA banned 34 companies from participating in public procurement over failure to deliver and for violating their contractual obligations.
With the latest ban in force, the respective companies won’t be allowed to supply goods and services to public offices countrywide, Vice-Chairman of the PPRA board of directors Mihayo said.
“It was not easy to institute such punishment, but we had no other option. Procurement laws and regulations must be respected,” stressed Judge Mihayo when he addressed journalists shortly after PPRA's board meeting held in Dar es Salaam.
The ban comes amid growing public concerns over massive violation of procurement laws and regulations in public circles, creating loopholes for corruption and embezzlement of public funds.