By Henry Sekanjako
KAMPALA - Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) are pushing for open contracting by government ministries and agencies to ensure transparency in awarding contracts.
The CSOs believe that open contracting by government will limit cases of corruption that come with the awarding of ‘juicy’ contracts.
“We want to make sure that government makes proper use of public resources by making all its transactions public. This in a way improves service delivery,” said Livingstone Ssewanyana, the executive Director foundation for Human rights initiative.
He said there is need for the citizens to access information about government contracts, saying it is a constitutional right for all Ugandans to access information.
The CSOs want government ministries and agencies to make public all contracts and procurement for sectors like oil and gas, roads, health, education, that impact on Uganda’s economy.
“If one is not corrupt, why should they not embrace open contracting – this kind of contracting encourages low costs and better services,” said Stewart Mutabazi, the executive director of Uganda Road Sector Support Initiative (URSSI).
The CSOs said lack of information on government contracts was fueling corruption and poor services by most of the companies which are awarded contracts but lack experts.
They suggested that government involves members of the public in designing and contracting of different government projects before any contractors are brought on board for proper use of public resources and accountability.
“We want to see more disclosure and accountability by involving the public in monitoring and evaluation so that services are delivered to their expectations, people need to know their entitlements,” said Claire Schouten, the program director of Integrity Leadership for Africa.
The CSOs who were attending the Open Contracting conference in Kampala expressed optimism that open contracting will reduce on money spent on ‘kickbacks’ (commissions) by middlemen.
However, the Public Relations Officer of Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets Authority (PPDA) Vincent Mugaba scoffed at the CSOs’s proposal, arguing that it would be very hard for government to implement.
“You cannot do an open contracting on sectors like roads. The construction sector is a very technical sector where you cannot do an open contracting,” he said.
“I don’t know where this is done in the world. It is very complex.”
He however explained that government was encouraging display of procurement plans by all ministries, adding that all government agencies are required to make public their procurement works in a space of one year before procurement.