The decision by the Public Procurement Regulatory Authority (PPRA) to bar a total of 357 firms and individual consultants from participating in Public Procurement activities is laudable—and milestone in fighting corruption and frauds in the sector.
PPRA reached the decisions after proving beyond reasonable doubt that the 357 companies and individual consultants won various public tenders through corrupt and fraudulent means.
The latest ban by the procurement watchdog mainly targeted foreign firms, suppliers and construction companies blacklisted or barred (by a foreign country, international organisation, or other foreign institution) from taking part in public procurement activities.
The Procurement Act number 21 of 2004, Section 57, gives the authority powers to debar firms or individuals, who have been banned by international organisations and foreign companies for fraud, corruption or breach of contract.
According to the PPRA Chief Executive Officer, Ramadhan Mlinga, on the basis of its mandate, the PPRA at its 46th extraordinary meeting held on July 10 this year, disqualified 357 firms (including their directors) and individuals from participating in public procurement in the country.
Out of those blacklisted firms, according to the watchdog body’s top official, 345 firms and individuals have been barred by the World Bank for fraud or corruption, while 13 others have been disqualified by Uganda’s Public Procurement and Disposal Authority for fraud, corruption or breach of contract.
Some 246 firms have been disqualified for a period of one year to more than ten years, while 94 firms and individuals have been debarred permanently.
According to the PPRA, directors and subsidiary companies of the debarred firms are also affected by this move—a situation which means that public entities should conduct “due diligence” to ensure that tenders are not awarded to firms owned by the blacklisted directors or their subsidiary companies.
A blacklisted supplier, contractor or consultant is not allowed to start new supply, contracting or consulting firm during the debarment period. The latest debarment does not apply to ongoing contracts and on tenders where letters of acceptance have been issued to successful bidders before July 10, this year (the date of PPRA’s board decision).
We at The Guardian strongly commend PPRA for this courageous move because it shows how together we can fight corruption and frauds, which have rocked the procurement industry for years.
Some international crooks masquerading as credible companies have been defrauding Africa billions of dollars annually through the procurement industry. After their dirty deals, these companies change names and move to another country to continue with their corrupt practices and frauds—with the assistance of dishonest public officials.
But with the bold decisions like the one taken by PPRA, it’s obvious that the days of these local and international crooks are numbered. Africa can’t afford to be grandma’s farm where all international fraudsters earn free billions of dollars annually, whereby in return they pretend to give back a small portion of what they have robbed as corporate social responsibility.
PPRA has proved beyond doubt what Martin Luther King meant when he said injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. The majority of these firms might have committed their crimes outside Tanzania, but at the end of the day, crime knows no borders and therefore they have no room in our country.
This is the best way to help the Prevention and Combating of Corruption Bureau (PCCB) to eradicate corruption in the procurement industry.