The minimum allocated time depends on each and every procurement method.
According to the current Public Procurement Act (PPA, 2011) the time ranges from 90 to 4 calendar days.
This is provided for under the Eighth Schedule (Made under regulations 68(3), 120, 163, 187 and 286(6)) which states that.
“The time given under this Schedule is intended to give bidders adequate time to prepare their bids and shall not be reduced by PEs under any circumstances, except where a tender has been rejected...” under the given conditions.
According to the above-mentioned Schedule many days shall be allocated to International Competitive Bidding (ICB) and few days to the National Shopping where Competitive Quotations (CQ)are invited from local business community.
However, the legally allocated days as indicated above are just minimum time allocated but PEs are allowed to increase as many days as possible according to their convenience.
Apart from the good intentions of the law makers on this aspect, there has been endless complaints from some public procurement stakeholders especially users and Accounting officers that this part of the law is a hindrance to the continuity of their operations on the ground that it causes delays.
This outcry was experienced during the repealed Public Procurement Act (PPA, 2004) and it still exists.
Unknowingly, the government responded to their claims such that when the current legislation (PPA, 2011) was enacted it reduced the tender processing time unreasonably.
For example, in the former law (PPA, 2004), 30 days were allocated to bidders in preparing their bids under National Competitive Bidding (NCB) but the number was reduced to 21 days.
Further, time was reduced under the National Shopping Method (CQ) from seven (7) days to four (4) days in the current law to mention but a few.
The aim of this article is to remind those responsible in preparing the bill to be tabled before the Parliament to avoid repeating the same mistake encountered in the current legislation (PPA, 2011) but should think of increasing the number of days even beyond those allocated in the PPA, 2004.
The reasons behind this recommendation are that, delays in procurement process are mainly caused by (PEs) internal bureaucracy and irresponsiveness by its officers rather than the time allocated to bidders to prepare their bids.
Also, experience shows that, many PEs do not offer extra time beyond the legally allocated ones for bidders to prepare their bids unless there are complicated situations on their part.
Further, the current time allocated is not sufficient for bidders to prepare responsive bids considering the fact that Tanzanian procurement law does not even allow Electronic bidding.
Furthermore, the reduction of time impinges competition which is one of the basic procurement principles whereby many bidders fail to prepare and submit their bids on time.
This being the case, the law should provide adequate time in advance to enable bidders ample time to study the bidding documents, conduct market research, prepare their bids and submit to PEs in time.
To conclude then, the government and other Public Procurement Stakeholders should strive on insisting PEs to prepare comprehensive and realistic Annual Procurement Plans (APPs) for smooth implementation and users (heads of departments) should be reminded to submit their inputs/requirements timely to PMUs in order to initiate procurement process.
Above all, Accounting officers should make sure that procurement is conducted according to the approved plans in their organizations by putting into task those who obstruct the process in one way or the other because according to the law, section 36(1) they have the overall responsibility for the execution of the procurement process in the procurement entity and shall be responsible for procurement decisions made by their procuring entities as per section 36(5).
It should be notedthat procurement process is multidimensional involving many stakeholders in any organization; the act of leaving the process to be managed by PMUs alone shall definitely result into severe defects. More importantly,effective procurement needs joint efforts.
The author is an Authorized Procurement and Supplies Professional.
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