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Fighting corruption in procurement: Focus on morals, values and ethics

16th September 2011
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One of the areas where corruption is rife in Tanzania is in the procurement sector where the government has incurred losses in terms of billions of shillings. Without proper protection, multiple opportunities for corruption will continue featuring in procurement processes and the nation will continue losing taxpayers’ money for no good reason.

But as Our Correspondent argues, understanding corruption requires a focus on morals, values and ethics. It means that fighting corruption needs a holistic approach which involves people and empowering them to take action against corrupt officials. Read on…

Procurement is widely recognised as one of the areas most susceptible to corrupt practices in both the public and private sectors. In Tanzania, it is used as a window area to purchase substandard or second-hand equipment using brand new prices contrary to applicable laws.

Section 72(1) of the Public Procurement Act, 2004 states that: Procuring and approving entities as well as tenderers, suppliers, contractors and consultants under public financed contracts shall proceed in a transparent and accountable manner during the procurement and execution of such contracts.

Section 72(2) further states: Where a procuring entity or an approving authority is, after appropriate investigations, satisfied that any person or firm, to which it is proposed that a tender be awarded, has engaged in corrupt or fraudulent practices in competing for the contract in question, the entity or authority may –

(a) reject a proposal for award of such contract

(b) declare any person or firm ineligible for a period of ten years to be awarded a public financed contract and those involved be held accountable [section 72(4)] in accordance with criminal proceedings (section 76).

Yet, malpractices in public procurement processes have abounded and the government has incurred losses in terms of billions of shillings, as a result.

So, without proper protection, multiple opportunities for corruption will continue featuring in procurement processes and the nation will continue losing taxpayers’ money for no good reason.

Consequences in the public sector can be as severe as impending national economic growth and endangering public safety. Likewise, corruption in the private sector procurement increases costs, erodes profit margins and damages company or organisation reputation.

The Tanzania Global Development Learning Centre (TGDLC) in collaboration with the Kenya Development Learning Centre (KDLC) will from October 10 to 14, this year organise a videoconference course on combating corruption in procurement.

The course explores types and symptoms of corruption and provides participants with the skills to monitor, investigate and audit dubious procurement operations and demonstrate a range of management controls and procurement best practice techniques with a view to minimising or uncovering corruption.

The target group comprises senior executives interested in minimizing corruption, including procurement managers, anti-corruption personnel and internal auditors responsible for overseeing procurement operations.

Participants will learn and acquire practical skills to assess vulnerability in procurement processes, develop and implement appropriate corruption prevention strategies and management controls.

This includes designing and implementing a transparent and ethical procurement system and minimising risks, as well as using audit and observation skills to identify malpractices and marketing a code of ethics to stakeholders.

The course covers but is not limited to the following areas: categories and levels of corruption, understanding the prevalence of fraud and corruption in procurement.

Others are corruption policies, ethical codes and whistle blowing, symptoms and indicators of procurement corruption, procurement audit, monitoring and inspection and training, capacity building and individual performance management.

Article 9 of the Constitution of the United Republic of Tanzania (as amended 2005) gives the object of the Constitution as to facilitate the building of a nation of equal and free individuals enjoying freedom, justice, fraternity and concord.

It also outlines state obligations to ensure, among other things, public affairs are conducted in such a way as to ensure that national resources and heritage are harnessed, preserved and applied for the common good and also to prevent the exploitation of one person by another; that the use of national resources place emphasis on the development of the people and is geared towards the eradication of poverty, ignorance and disease.

It also provides that economic activities should not be conducted in a manner capable of resulting in the concentration of wealth or the major means of production in the hands of a few individuals.

Looking at what is happening in the country, it is obvious that the Constitution is being violated day and night since what it demands is not what we see happening on the ground.

A paper on ‘corruption, politics and social values in Tanzania: An overview of Benjamin Mkapa’s first five-year term’ concludes that understanding corruption requires a focus on morals, values and ethics.

That is, fighting corruption needs a holistic approach which involves people and empowering them to take action against corrupt officials. But there should clearly be seen the political will to combat not only corruption but also grand corruption.

“Given the mixed messages sent to Tanzanians concerning the commitment of top leadership to combat corruption, sensitisation campaigns coupled with limited enforcement methods are unlikely to produce significant changes in societal norms that sustain corruption,” reads part of the conclusion of the paper.

SOURCE: THE GUARDIAN
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