No matter how the government drafts multiple bills to seal loopholes of theft and embezzlement of public funds and corruption such legislations would always remain a white elephant as long as government officials’ integrity continues to erode.
This observation featured prominently over the weekend in Parliament when MPs were debating the new Public Procurement Bill, 2011 that repeals the Public Procurement Act, 2004. The new Bill among other things seeks permission for acquisition of used heavy machineries and plants, including sharpening the teeth of the Public Procurement Regulatory Authority (PPRA).
According to MPs, questionable integrity of some government officials has cost the nation enormously especially in the area of public procurement.
Depicting how lack of integrity has cost the nation, the speech delivered by the opposition camp in Parliament states that the 2009/2010 report of the Controller and Auditor General ( CAG) shows a total of Sh 2.4 trillion was badly spent in the 2009/2010 financial year, which is equivalent to 21 per cent of the respective financial year’s budget that amounted to Sh 11 trillion.
According to the opposition camp, of the Sh 2.4 trillion badly spent in 2009/2010 financial year a total of Sh 50.6 billion was spent outside the annual procurement plan while Sh 15.5 billion was spent in authorized payments. In the same speech delivered by the opposition it was revealed that in total the government and its institutions annually carries out public procurement worth 15 per cent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product ( GDP).
In the speech that was delivered by Christina Lissu on behalf of Shadow Minister for Finance and Economic Affairs Zuberi Kabwe Zitto, it was revealed that for the past three financial years the government minus its corporations made public procurement worth Sh 7.6 trillion.
According to the opposition, public money is embezzled or stolen through inflating commodity prices, especially when the procurement is conducted by a public entity. The 2009/2010 CAG report of central government accounts show the compliance level of the procurement law is 55 per cent, meaning that nearly 50 per cent of all sections of the Public Procurement Act, 2004 are not followed.
MPs such as Lucy Mayenga ( CCM-Special Seats ), David Silinde ( Chadema- Mbozi West) and Jenister Mhagama ( CCM- Peramiho) said time is ripe for the government to take stern disciplinary and legal measures against errant officials.
They said it was discouraging to see people accused of swindling billions of shillings in public funds riding posh cars in the streets while the majority of the people are languishing in abject poverty.