Uganda’s Minister of Finance, Planning and Economic Development, Mr Matia Kasaija has launched a framework to enhance Public Procurement outcomes through effective collaboration between the Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets Authority (PPDA), Procuring and Disposing Entities (PDEs) and Civil Society Organisations (CSOs). The launch took place at the opening of the Public Procurement Performance Review Forum held at Protea Kampala Hotel on Thursday, October 31, 2019. The Forum was held under the theme, “Strengthening None state Actor Participation in Monitoring Public Procurement Contracts for increased social accountability”
Speaking at the event, Mr Kasaija said that the Government of Uganda spends 60% of the national budget through public contracting. However, lack of transparency and a host of other problems undermine realisation of value for money from public spending. Citing his own experience, the minister said he had promised his constituents that Kakumiro road would be tarmacked and indeed he allocated funds for this purpose. However, the procurement process delayed for nearly three years and many citizens had branded him a liar because they didn’t have information on the challenges the project was facing. He called upon PPDA and all procuring and disposing entities to provide communities with information on contracts being executed in a timely manner.
The framework was developed by PPDA with active CSOs who were consulted at forums held at District and National level. Through the framework, the government has committed to proactively disclose information needed by civil society to support their monitoring of contracts.
While addressing over 200 stakeholders from government, civil society and development partners, Mr Benson Turamye, the Executive Director PPDA stressed the importance of civil society in enhancing public procurement outcomes through monitoring of contracts and providing feedback to government agencies for action. He noted that the initiative to institutionalise collaboration between PPDA, PDEs and respective CSOs was inspired by the work by the Africa Freedom of Information Centre (AFIC) who have monitored contracts and provided useful feedback to both PPDA and respective PDEs.
Sharing experiences of civil society, Gilbert Sendugwa, the Executive Director of AFIC and member of the Uganda Contracts Monitoring Coalition (UCMC) noted that with support of the World Bank’s Global Partnership for Social Accountability (GPSA), Hewlett Foundation and the Democratic Governance Facility (DGF), AFIC and UCMC have collaborated with government in improving disclosure of procurement information by redesigning the Government Procurement Portal on better technology and in line with the Open Contracting Data Standards (OCDs). He reported that 39% of the recommendations by AFIC and UCMC had so far been implemented by PPDA and respective government Ministries and District Local Governments. These relate to cost and time overruns, diversion of funds, shoddy works, poor execution of contracts, fraud, and collusion. He recommended that; Open Contracting (disclosure and citizen participation) should be mainstreamed in the PPDA Act and Regulations, all procuring and disposing entities should comply with obligations by consistently publishing data on the Government Procurement Portal, community members should be provided with copies of contracts regarding projects being implemented in their respective communities, Ministry of Finance and Parliament should increase funding to PPDA, funding for performance monitoring and training should be boosted, implementation of CSO recommendations and feedback should be strengthened, training and funding for CSOs involved in contract monitoring should be enhanced.
Participants welcomed the initiative of the Government to expand and strengthen collaboration with civil society organisations in promoting value for money in public contracting.