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Nigeria: Experts Pick Holes in Procurement Process

August 25, 2014 Leave a comment

This Day

By James Emejo

 Say absence of  governing council violates enabling act.

Renewed controversies have trailed the continued existence of the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP) without the proposed National Council on Public Procurement (NCPP) which ought to endorse the former’s activities as provided by the Public Procurement Act 2007.

Prof. Paul Idornigie of the Nigeria Institute of Advanced Legal Studies told THISDAY that one of the objectives of the BPP in ensuring probity, accountability and transparency in the procurement process is in doubt because the NCPP is yet to be established as required by the Act which also gave life to the Bureau.

Speaking on new issues of transparency and access to information in the public and private sectors at a one-day seminar themed: “Emerging Issues on Good Governance in Nigeria” which was organised by the Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administration of Nigeria (ICSAN) Abuja Chapter, he also carpeted the Federal Executive Council (FEC) for allegedly usurping the function of the NCPP by approving and awarding contracts at its weekly meetings.

He said the BPP could not be said to be observing good governance in its operations when the NCPP which is supposed to vet its activities is yet to be created as prescribed by law.

He further chided members of the National Assembly for being pre-occupied with frivolous oversight functions and not ensuring that laws passed are actually implemented to the letter.

The professor said:”I am actually worried about the effect on contracts being awarded by the Federal Executive Council on this issue. I won’t use the word illegal; all I’m saying is that the National Assembly members are here: if they believe that they don’t need the National Council on Procurement, they should amend the law. But we cannot have a law that provides for NCPP and since 2007, the council has not been established.”

He said:”I have a challenge with the public procurement act when talking about transparency; this was a law passed to ensure transparency and accountability. Now this law was passed in 2007 but as we speak, we’ve not had a National Council on Public Procurement and yet, we have the Bureau of Public Procurement which ought to take directives from the Council.

“All the thresholds being observed in the ministries, departments and agencies of government are determined by the BPP but the Bureau needs the approval of the National Council on Privatisation to do this.
“How do you run a system where the law provides that there should be a council and all we see every Wednesday is that the work that ought to be done by this council is being taken by the Federal Executive Council. Is that transparency?”

According to Idornigie:”If the government feels we don’t need the National Council on Public Procurement, let them amend the law to provide that it is the FEC that would play this role. One of the objectives of the BPP is to ensure probity, accountability and transparency in the procurement process. Now how can BPP do this when it has no council?”

He added that though the governing council for public procurement had not been set up, yet the BPP had been issuing financial thresholds, stressing that “the whole public procurement act made no reference to the FEC and yet, it is the FEC that approves matters which ought to be approved by the National Council on Public Procurement.”

In the same vein, Chairman, ICSAN, Abuja Chapter, Mrs. Stella Anukam, said there were several laws which had been enacted by the National Assembly but yet to be implemented.
She said:”When it comes to implementation, you would be shocked. The public procurement act is one and if the major body set up to ensure the implementation of that act since 2007 is yet to be in place I think we should begin to worry.”

Anukam, however, said ICSAN would convey the summit resolutions on issues raised to relevant authorities and press for concrete action.

Meanwhile, speaking while declaring the seminar open, Minister for Information, Mr. Labaran Maku, warned of severe consequence in neglecting good governance which he described as necessary for redeeming the country’s battered image.

He blamed the absence of good governance on the incessant political instability witnessed in the polity especially during the military regime.

Maku said the way to go was for citizens and leader to take responsibility for their actions as well as reappraise societal values.

He said everybody must be disciplined to respect rules adding that “the cutting corners syndrome is like Ebola virus” which does no good to anybody.
He added that serious people were needed in government to ensure things are done the right way.

Conflict minerals reporting guidance published

October 2, 2013 Leave a comment

SupplyManagement

October 1, 2013 | Helen Gilbert

The guidance, compiled by the Responsible Sourcing Network and Enough Project, has been produced ahead of the 31 May 2014 deadline that requires companies who source minerals from the Democratic Republic of Congo to submit their first conflict minerals disclosures to the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

Policies should articulate a commitment to ensuring sourcing practices do not support conflict, human rights abuses including forced labour, mass atrocities and crimes against humanity, the Expectations for Companies’ Conflict Minerals Reporting guidance stated.

It detailed how firms should commit to exercising supply chain due diligence and consider the implementation of a supply chain transparency system that allows for the identification of the smelters and/or refiners in its minerals supply chain.

The metals tin, tantalum, tungsten and gold – also known as 3TG – should only be sourced from conflict-free covered countries, while companies should only use 3TG minerals from smelters that have been audited and verified as conflict free by a credible programme such as the Conflict-Free Sourcing Initiative, the document states.

Other recommendations include developing a conflict minerals programme that incorporates a description of the steps that will be taken to identify, assess, mitigate and respond to risks.

At a minimum steps should include supply chain surveys, supplier training, supplier and smelter encouragement, and an obligation to participate in the Conflict Free Smelter programme or equivalent, provided such industry schemes adhere to international standards, audits and unannounced spot checks, the report stipulated.

Darren Fenwick, senior government affairs manager at the Enough Project and report co-author said advocates for a clean minerals trade were keen to understand how companies, who are connected to the Congo through mineral sourcing, are addressing their connection to the conflict that has resulted in millions of deaths.

“Companies whose reports show compliance benefit from positive public sentiment and increased brand recognition,” he said.

Fellow co-author Patricia Jurewicz, Responsible Sourcing Network director added: “Investors would like to see their companies establish baselines the first year and specify the steps they are taking so we can then measure improvements in transparency and accountability reporting over time. Our paper provides a set of specific indicators that can be tracked to allow for comparability between annual reports.”

 

All South Africa construction majors ‘involved’ in collusion, price-fixing – Patel

April 12, 2013 Leave a comment

Engineering News

By: Natalie Greve

11th April 2013

Economic Development Minister Ebrahim Patel has said that all the major South African civil engineering and construction companies currently active in the sector have been involved in infrastructure-related collusion and price-fixing.

“This problem is huge and pervasive in the infrastructure space,” he said at the inaugural Project and Construction Management Professions Conference on Thursday.

The State reportedly lost billions of rands through large-scale collusion and price-fixing by private sector companies during several past infrastructure projects, which instigated investigations by the Competition Commission into several completed public build projects.

These enquiries, which included investigations into the Gautrain project and several stadium developments, uncovered substantial evidence of collusion and price fixing by private sector participants, the Minister noted.

In cases involving critical projects, a number of companies came forward to acknowledge their involvement in the unlawful practises, Patel added.

“We have received about 400 admissions of incidents of collusion by companies in the sector,” he commented.

South African Council for the Project and Construction Management Professions (SACPCMP) president Professor Raymond Nkado said he was “shocked” that registered members of the SACPCMP had been found to have been involved.

“As a council, we have decided that we might take additional disciplinary action against these [companies],” he said.

Fast-Track Process
Based on the evidence gleaned from the commission’s investigations, which indicated the pervasiveness of the involvement by private companies, it was decided to introduce a “fast-track settlement process”, which would avoid lengthy legal processes that could persist for up to eight years, and which Patel said could potentially distract the project management process.

“We approached the industry and said we were prepared to put a voluntary disclosure process on the table, which would bring this to a conclusion expeditiously. In return, what is required is full disclosure, a commitment to end the cartels and an acceptance that the law must take its course,” he explained.

Once the disclosure process had been completed and admission of guilt received, the commission would then determine appropriate fines or penalties related to the value of the project.

Several such processes between the Competition Commission and private companies were currently under way, with most in the final stages, where the extent of the penalty was being determined in cases where organisations were “improperly enriched”.

Patel added that the first company to come forward and admit collusion would receive preferential treatment in terms of the penalty levied.

“We also take into account the extent of cooperation, so that there is an incentive to come clean. However, these companies will still have to pay substantial penalties as prescribed by the Competition Act,” he cautioned.

In cases where investigations implicated public servants, this information would be referred to law enforcement agencies.

There would be public disclosure once settlements had been reached.

Incentivisation

Public Works Minister Thulas Nxesi added that the findings of the investigation challenged the common perception that corruption and malgovernance was only pervasive in the public sector.

“The opinion that only government has such problems has been proved incorrect. There are huge problems in the private sector and we must expose them,” he said, encouraging the private sector to engage in “self reflection”.

Nxesi noted that key to the prevention of corruption in infrastructure projects was the establishment of a strong financial system, transparent procurement processes and incentivisation.

Moreover, Patel advised that the competition authorities had used the findings of the investigations to identify networks and channels used by companies in collusive practises and had identified the lead players and managers.

This would be used to develop internal preventive controls to reduce the opportunity for future collusion.

In addition, Patel said the CEO of any company awarded an infrastructure tender would be required to sign an “integrity pact” that committed them to competitive and noncorrupt practises and to create a culture in their organisation in which anticompetitive behaviour was discouraged.

“This will require executives to commit personal responsibility and liability,” he said.

The integrity pact was currently being piloted in a number of infrastructure tenders and would be fully implemented throughout the course of this year.

Patel said it was critical that the new phase of national infrastructure development not be characterised by similar high levels of collusion and price-fixing.

“Companies will have to make an important calculation. In the past, they thought collusion was a no-brainer; that they would secure the contract and walk away with the money. Now they see that we have developed the investigatory capacity to track the evidence down and to bring companies to book. That is the most important breakthough for us,” he said.

Edited by: Chanel de Bruyn

Analysis: New law fails to ease oil concerns in Uganda

December 14, 2012 Leave a comment

IRIN NEWS

KAMPALA/NAIROBI, 13 December 2012 (IRIN) – Uganda’s parliament recently passed a law to govern the exploration, development and production of the country’s estimated three billion barrels of oil, a resource whose extraction will directly affect the livelihoods of tens of thousands of people.

While the law streamlines the burgeoning industry, analysts have raised concerns over transparency and over who controls the sector.

“The new law helps set clear guidelines under which the oil sector is to be run and managed, and makes clear who is in charge of what roles,” said Tony Otoa, director of Great Lakes Public Affairs (GLPA), a Uganda-based think tank focusing on oil and governance. “However, there are some concerns about transparency and too much power within the oil industry in the hands of the president.”

The bill was passed on 7 December after weeks of wrangling over its controversial Clause 9, which gives the energy minister wide-ranging powers, including authority over the granting and revoking of oil licenses, negotiating and endorsing petroleum agreements, and promoting and sustaining transparency in the petroleum sector. Many members of parliament (MPs) felt these powers should be held by an independent national oil authority.

“Essentially, the standoff, which has ended, was about the withdrawal of trust from a government that is battered by corruption scandals. Also the way the cabinet operates is that, in the past, the feeling has been that some key ministries, like finance, are effectively run by the presidency after being stuffed by yes-men or -women. The pushback against Clause 9 also comes as the Central Bank opened its vaults to a large withdrawal in 2010 [US$740 million to buy six fighter jets] only for approvals to be sought retrospectively,” said Angelo Izama, a Ugandan journalist and oil sector analyst.

“Loss of trust”

“This loss of trust is behind the resistance to greater control by the executive,” he added. “The executive has not been a bad shepherd of the process so far. Uganda’s negotiating position has been tougher with the oil companies, ironically, without the oversight of parliament. However, public scandals elsewhere have negatively affected the ability of the president to convince lawmakers – especially of his party – that he means well.”

A number of donors – including the UK and Ireland – recently suspended aid to Uganda following allegations of deep-rooted corruption in the Office of the Prime Minister. The prime minister, the former energy minister and the foreign affairs minister were all accused of taking kick-backs from oil companies in 2011, charges that remain unproven but that nevertheless damage the reputation of the government.

“The country lacks trust in the state… Institutions and officials have lost legitimacy, and for such an important bill to vest too much power into a political appointee is a recipe for disaster,” said Stephen Oola, a transitional justice and governance analyst at Uganda’s Makerere University Refugee Law Project.

“Granting and revoking licenses and negotiations are technical in nature. We need an independent commission or authority made up of people of good competence, technical ability and experience, and good morals to guard our oil,” said Frank Gashumba, a local businessman and social activist.

Proponents of Clause 9 say licensing powers are safer in the hands of the cabinet than under an oil authority. “The authority is open, easy to bribe and manipulate. Cabinet is bigger than the authority – members of the executive are answerable to Ugandans because they are elected leaders,” said Kenneth Omona, a ruling party MP.

Those opposed to it say they will challenge the law, which was passed with 149 votes in favour and 39 against; some 198 MPs did not turn up to vote.

“The fight is not complete; the passing of the bill is liable to be challenged in courts of law,” said Theodore Ssekikubo, ruling party MP and chair of the parliamentary forum on oil and gas. “If we fail to go to court, we shall subject the matter to a referendum for all Ugandans to pronounce themselves on this strategic resource. We want to ensure transparency and accountability in the oil sector.”

Transparency

There are also concerns about the law’s confidentiality clause, which limits the amount of information accessible by the public.

“The law is lacking transparency – it imposes confidentiality on officials working within the sector, even after they leave office, so there is no opportunity for whistle-blowing or for the public to have access to information on, say, production-sharing agreements,” GLPA’s Otoa said.

He noted that Uganda still hasn’t joined the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), an international scheme that attempts to set a global standard for transparency in oil, gas and mining, further compounding the sector’s lack of transparency. As a member of the EITI, Uganda and oil companies involved in the country would be required to publish all payments and revenues from the industry.

While Total and the China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC), two of Uganda’s major oil partners, are listed on Wall Street and are therefore subject to the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act - which requires disclosure of payments relating to the acquisition of licenses for exploration and production of oil, gas and minerals – the Irish firm Tullow Oil, another of Uganda’s main oil partners, is not under any similar obligations.

“I am worried we [legislators] and the public can’t access and scrutinize these agreements. You can imagine the recently negotiated and signed oil agreements have not been accessed by the public, not even by members of parliament,” Beatrice Anywar, former shadow energy minister, told IRIN.

The impact of the oil sector has so far been most acutely felt by communities around Lake Albert, thousands of whom have had to move – some willingly and some forcefully – to make room for an oil refinery, which is expected to take up 29sqkm and displace some 8,000 people.

Land issues

“The government is prosecuting the refinery resettlement by the book. However, managing public expectations and the process of multiple decision makers in Uganda’s complex land legal system [Uganda has multiple land systems, including customary, leasehold and freehold] has contributed some volatility to the process… What is adequate compensation? And who determines that? Is it the market or should this be done by the government?” said journalist Izama.

“As a partner to the oil companies, it’s questionable too if the government can make the best decisions for the affected people as it would look to keep project costs fairly low,” he continued. “It is still a dilemma which is jurisprudential as well as political.”

He noted that much of the oil is in game reserves and a sensitive basin with lakes, rivers and a rare biodiversity, and borders the Democratic Republic of Congo, which could also pose challenges for peaceful production; there has already been some tension between the two countries over their boundaries within Lake Albert.

“The process of consensus-building is still weak, and regardless of how it’s arrived at, displacements will create uncomfortable realities, including land and job pressure.”

According to Otoa, Uganda’s lack of a comprehensive land policy makes compensation issues more complex. “We need clear land policies to ensure people are properly compensated – there is a Resettlement Action Plan in place, but it has not been implemented, and a draft land policy has not been actualized, leaving these communities vulnerable,” he said.

He noted that the lack of education among the local population, both in the oil-rich areas and the rest of the country, had contributed to the continued problems in the sector.

“We have focused too much on educating MPs on the implications and importance of good oil governance. We need to move to people-centred approaches and encourage dialogue in the public sphere, which will lead to people demanding accountability from their MPs and the government,” he added.

Ultimately, Izama said, responsible actions by the government will be the difference between Uganda’s oil making a significant impact on the country’s economy or causing conflict and greater poverty.

“Pressure on public institutions prior to commercial oil production is an effective way of counteracting the resource curse. If this public engagement falters, if the transition [from President Museveni to his successor] is volatile, some of the scenarios of the so-called oil curse are possible,” he said. “Overall the tensions are high, but responsible actions by public and political institutions like the past debate show progress is possible.”

Senegal’s reforms and red carpets

December 3, 2012 Leave a comment

Africa Report

November 27, 2012

Senegal’s President Macky Sall has slashed government spending to finance new infrastructure projects.

Faced with an audit of Wade-era projects, the opposition says he is playing political games. Dakar has been rolling out the red carpet in recent weeks.

Elected in March on a reform ticket, President Macky Sall is in demand as an interlocutor – whether it is by the World Bank, the UN or France’s President François Hollande, who stopped in Dakar on 12 October en route to his more controversial landing in Kinshasa for the Francophonie summit.

This month, the Mo Ibrahim Foundation is holding its annual development conference in Dakar to salute Senegal’s political achievements.

Dakar’s National Assembly gave Hollande the chance to set out his Africa policy, which he insisted was non-interventionist and non-paternalistic.

Hollande seized the chance for a tête à tête with Sall, seeking his help for the regional effort to tackle the worsening in- security in Mali.

Senegal’s troops, alongside Ghana’s, are regarded as the most professional in the region.

But Sall has plenty of local problems to tackle – such as the perennial rainy-season flooding.

The government’s failure to invest in flood defences was one of the reasons for voters turning against former President Abdoulaye Wade.

In September, Macky Sall pushed through a bill to abolish the Senate, the second chamber in the National Assembly.

He promised that the 767bn CFA francs ($1.5bn) would be used to finance a 10-year plan for effective flood defences, storm drainage and sanitation.

Opponents to Sall’s plan accuse him of partisan plotting.

The Senate was dominated by members of Wade’s [I]Parti Démocratique Sénégalais[/I].

But Sall’s supporters insist the plan reflects the need to cut ballooning government overheads inherited from the Wade era.

The Sall government aims to cut the budget deficit from current levels of 7.4% of gross domestic product down to 4% by 2015.

So far, Sall has closed 59 moribund state institutions, banned first-class travel for civil servants and is selling a presidential jet.

To promote accountability, Sall has published details of all official salaries, declared his own assets and promised to cut salaries at state-run companies to below 5m CFA francs per month.

“Humility, sobriety and rigour should govern our politics,” Sall told The Africa Report’s sister magazine Jeune Afrique after his election.

“I assure you that there will be a profound break from the practices that were in force under my predecessor.”

The new government has quickly launched audits of government departments and projects for evidence of illicit disbursements.

This includes projects run by Wade’s son Karim, such as the 650bn CFA franc energy crisis programme, Plan Takkal.

Britain, France and the United States have pledged cooperation in tracking down stolen money.

Sall rejects claims of political vindictiveness: “The only thing that interests us is that the errors of the past don’t repeat themselves,” he said.

The courts will take cases identified by the audit.

His promise to cut the presidential term from seven to five years with immediate effect won local and international plaudits, as did his agreement with the African Union to set up a special tribunal for Chad’s ex-leader Hissène Habré, in exile in Senegal since 1990.

Liberia: President Sirleaf Raps On Progress Against Malaria

October 2, 2012 Leave a comment

AllAfrica

October 1, 2012

President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has disclosed that there has been unprecedented success in scaling up malaria control, with a 33 percent decrease in malaria deaths in Africa over the last decade.President Sirleaf said however, the current global funding crisis threatens this progress and the achievement of the health MDGs – Goals 4, 5 and 6.

“Our national malaria control programs have completed comprehensive programmatic and financial gap analyses, detailing a $3.7 billion gap in the finances needed to sustain universal coverage of essential malaria interventions to the end of 2015 in Africa,” President Sirleaf said.

“I speak on behalf of the 44 ALMA Heads of State and Government. As the world begins discussions on the post-2015 development framework, African leaders understand that we have a three-year window to leverage every resource to ensure that we achieve the health goals for our people and to develop plans to sustain the gains,” she said.

President Sirleaf said in the coming months, the High-Level Panel, which she has the honor to co-Chair with British Prime Minister David Cameron and Indonesian President Susilo Yudhoyono, will lay the groundwork for a global post-2015 agenda with shared responsibilities for all countries and with the fight against poverty and for sustainable development at its core.

“This new agenda must build on the successes that will have been achieved during the MDG era,” she added.

President Sirleaf who is Chairman of the African Leaders Malaria Alliance (ALMA) was speaking at the United Nations Secretary General‘s Every Woman Every Child Dinner held at the Museum of Modern Art in New York recently.

President Sirleaf said over the summer, African leaders rallied and decided that they will be at the forefront of The Big Push to 2015.

In this vein, President Sirleaf said African leaders have decided that it was important to call upon their bilateral, private sector, NGO, CBO, foundation and Development Bank partners to keep their commitments to global health. “They have done a great job thus far, but more is needed because the whole world benefits when our people thrive,” she averred.

She said African leaders have also decided to ensure value for money across all aspects of prevention and treatment which means full transparency and accountability and realizing efficiencies wherever they can be found.

She said ALMA has worked, over the past years with the Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI) to model sustained financing plans and to look at financial management best practices.

“We support the roll-out of procurement efficiencies, such as pooled procurement, standardization of net specifications and local manufacture of anti-malarial commodities. By doing so, we can save hundreds of millions of dollars. Uganda, for example, saved $17 million by standardizing mosquito net specifications and opting for pooled procurement,” the Liberian leader said.

She said African leaders have also decided to increase domestic resources from the public and private sectors, key elements of The Big Push to 2015 and beyond while committing to allocate 15 percent of public sector funds to health…Read more.

Monitoring Findings of the Sierra Leone Coalition for Budget and Procurement Transparency in the Education Sector

August 26, 2012 1 comment

Awareness Times Newspaper in Freetown

August21, 2012

TRANSPARENCY INTERNATIONALSierra Leone

20, Dundas Street, Freetown, Sierra Leone, West Africa P.O Box 1312

Press Release

Monitoring Findings of the Sierra Leone Coalition for Budget and Procurement Transparency in the Education Sector

“The Sierra Leone Coalition for Budget and Procurement Transparency in the Education Sector” supported by Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA) through its monitoring exercises had so far made the following findings.

1. There are established procurement committees with the required membership in all the entities monitored

2. Most of the procurement units monitored were able to produce documentary evidence of procurement committee meetings, bid documents, etc.

3. All the bid openings were done in public

4. Most of the procurement committees work independently without administrative or  political influence

5. Lack of adequate equipment like computers, printers in all the Procurement Units monitored. This will affect there efficiency of the unit and proper storage of records

6. In some entities, there is semblance of administrative/ political interference in public procurement processes. This will undermine the independence of the Unit

7. In all the entities monitored, there is inadequate number of procurement professionals to effectively handle procurement processes especially in big councils like the Freetown City Council. This is one of the factors responsible for flouting procurement regulations.

8. There is in most cases the absence of technical experts in the preparation of bids and the award of contracts. This can lead to the quotation of wrong specifications of goods, works and services required.

9. In most of the councils monitored, there is no documentary evidence of the 5% retention fee for every contract awarded especially works. This makes it  difficult to track contractors who abandon their contracts before completion

10. There is insufficient teaching and learning materials like text books in most of the schools monitored

11. There is delay, and sometimes non-payment of the 5% retention fees

12. In most of the entities monitored contract details including BOQs are not publicly displayed. This makes monitoring of contract performance very difficult

For more information or clarification please contact Transparency International Secretariat 20 Dundas Street Freetown or call Mr. Edward B. Koroma (Project Coordinator) on the following mobile telephone numbers 076-407979/033-445884/077-173936.

© Copyright 2005, Freetown, Sierra Leone.

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