By Billy Rwothungeyo
AMENDMENTS to the PPDA Act 2003 now await the commencement date by Maria Kiwanuka, the minister of finance, planning and economic development, for it to be operational after President Museveni gave it a nod.
On May 12, Parliament passed the PPDA Regulations, which operationalises the PPDA Act 2003 as amended.
Highlights and benefits
Key stakeholders are heralding the positives that the new amendments will bring to public procurement.
Amendments are aimed at ensuring transparency and accountability by streamlining the functions of accounting officers and contracts committees. Accounting officers will henceforth be personally liable for their actions in the procurement process.
It is also hoped that the amendments will further guarantee public confidence in the procurement process and strengthen the administrative review process by establishing the PPDA Tribunal.
Procurement and Disposal Entity (PDE) members are prohibited by the new law from entering into contracts with their entities to limit collusion.
Conflict of interest has been a key issue affecting public procurement in Uganda.
The preference and reservation schemes in the new law are aimed at promoting local and small and medium enterprise prospects of growth by providing more avenues to do business with the Government. Uganda currently lags behind neighbours like Kenya and Tanzania, which have in place these schemes.
The amendments in the new law also regulate procurement planning, accrediting alternative procedures and providing additional functions of contracts committees.
The new PPDA Act is to apply to Bank of Uganda and the Office of the Auditor General except in the performance of their core mandate under the Constitution in Articles 162 and 163.
The Central Bank has not been compliant to the PPDA Act in all its procurements and disposal activities.
Further, the new law mandates the Authority to determine the price, where applicable, of works, services and supplies in common use by more than one entity.
Such procurements may be subject to common procurement.
Procurement procedures under bi-lateral tied loans
Where there is a condition of a bilateral loan or negotiated grant that the provider should originate from the country of the donor, procurement of such a provider shall be in accordance with the PPDA Act.
However, if there is a conflict between the Act, Regulations or any directions of the Authority and a condition imposed by the donor of funds, the condition shall prevail with respect to a procurement that uses those funds and no others.
The authority is now mandated to review the decision of an accounting officer of an entity where an administrative review has been lodged within 15 working days before the accounting officer communicates it to the complainant.
In the same vein, the authority is also mandate by the new law to make recommendations to the entity, indicating any corrective measures to be taken.
Where the authority fails to give its recommendations, the accounting officer may implement the decision.