The Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets Authority (PPDA) was established in 2003 by an Act of Parliament, to regulate public procurement processes in Uganda.
By Billy Rwothungeyo
The Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets Authority (PPDA) was established in 2003 by an Act of Parliament, to regulate public procurement processes in Uganda. Uganda has been at the forefront of implementing public procurement reforms having been one of the first countries in East Africa and Africa generally to enact a procurement law. PPDA was created out of the reforms in the public sector procurement that were initiated in the late 1990s. The reform process culminated in the enactment of the PPDA Act and Regulations 2003.
The burden of the young Authority in 2003 was to ensure that all Government agencies at the local and central level are aware of the law and have the structures in place to undertake procurements in a properly regulated manner. PPDA has since then monitored the public procurement process and guided entities on how to ensure the process is efficient, transparent, and accountable and enables Government to deliver its obligations to the people. Recognising the continuously changing public procurement environment and the challenges created, there was growing need for amendment of the PPDA law.
The Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development began the process of amendment of the PPDA law in consultation with experts, users, the business community, local leaders and academics. The PPDA Amendment Act was passed by Parliament on May 10, 2011 and the amended regulations on May 9, 2013.
Today, the Amended PPDA Act and Regulations take effect implying that all procurements will be governed under the amended law starting today. The amendments will significantly change the way public procurement is managed in Uganda in terms of efficiency, transparency and accountability. Some of the immediate benefits will be to enhance participation of local businesses under the preference and reservation schemes.
The new law also demands great accountability from both public and private officials involved in procurement. Another notable benefit will be the special regulations for the procurement of medicines and medical supplies. It is hoped that the amendments will improve efficiency in the procurement of medicines and medical supplies and reduce stock out of medical supplies. The key objectives of the Amendments are:
- To strengthen PPDA by giving it additional powers in regulating public procurement lRegulate procurement planning in all Government entities
- Ensure transparency and accountability by making accounting officers personally liable for their actions in the procurement process.
- Promote local and small business through preference and reservation schemes.
- Guarantee the confidence of the public in the procurement process by establishing the PPDA Tribunal. Being a new law, there are a number of rules, regulations and definitions that have been introduced to cover the different needs in the procurement cycle.
The information provided here is an overview of the amended PPDA Act. Full information is found on the PPDA website at www.ppda.go.ug or at the PPDA offices at UEDCL Tower, Nakasero Road Kampala
There are special regulations for the procurement of medicines and medical supplies
The Mission of the PPDA is:
To regulate and facilitate public procurement and disposal in Uganda by setting standards, building capacity and monitoring compliance and ultimately contribute to socio-economic development.
The mandate of PPDA is derived from the objectives of the organisation as stipulated under Section 6 of the PPDA Act namely to:
- Ensure the application of fair, competitive, transparent, non-discriminatory and value for money public procurement and disposal standards and practices;
- Harmonise the procurement and disposal policies, systems and practices of the Central Government, Local Governments and statutory bodies;
- Set standards for the public procurement and disposal systems in Uganda; lMonitor compliance of procuring and disposing entities; and
- Build procurement and disposal capacity in Uganda
Website of the Authority
To improve efficiency and ensure that all stakeholders have access to information regarding the public procurement process. PPDA maintains a website where the information detailed below is accessible. The website that is freely accessible to all stakeholders is at www.ppda.go.ug/amendments2014
- List of public assets disposed of to public officers lAverage price list of common user items
- Procurement plans of each entity
- Bid notices, best evaluated bidder notices, and contract award notices of all Entities
- The Register of Providers
- The Standard Bidding Documents
Amended procument law comes into effect
trueA new chapter of procurement in Uganda opens with the amended Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets Authority (PPDA) Act coming into force today. Billy Rwothungeyo caught up with Cornelia Sabiiti, the executive director of PPDA, for an interview delving into the amendments
QUESTION: Could you give me a brief background of the procurement reforms in Uganda over the recent past?
ANSWER: Previously, we had a centralised regime, under the Central Tenders Board. But as the Government became bigger over the years, and the need for goods and services increased, it could not procure everything centrally. This gave birth to PPDA in 2003. For the last 10 years, we have been more into change management, setting standards, helping people understand the procurement process better among others. After 10 years, we feel that we have to move onto new reforms.
Why did PPDA decide to undertake these new reforms?
There has been a public outcry that public procurement is slowing service delivery. PPDA has done a survey looking at all procurements in which there have been major delays, and our conclusion is that these delays are not at advertising, bidding (stages), they are at the evaluation stage. So, in order to promote efficiency, we are going to regulate the area of evaluation.
This has been left at large, some people take six months others even a year to evaluate. Poor planning has also been affecting government projects. Many projects are well conceived, but when it comes to implementation, people drag their feet. There has also been a problem of people not engaging end users in a project, that is why we have many markets built in local governments but are abandoned just because the end user was not consulted.
Then there is the issue of corruption. If over 60% of government money is spent on public procurement, then it definitely becomes a target for corruption. The amendments now provide for who can qualify to apply to do business with the Government. Some people have been barred from bidding in particular entities, including ministers in their respective ministries.
As an accounting officer, I cannot provide services to PPDA. If I am on the contracts committee, I still cannot. There has also been a concern that the public procurement process is mysterious; that it is understood by a few, who are trying to keep the game themselves.
The amendments aim to open up public procurement to more Ugandans.
How will these amendments change the landscape of procurement in Uganda?
I think they will positively impact on the public procurement because we have marked the cycle and given time frames. Entities can no longer hide behind their inefficiencies because at point X, you must have finished what was in your plan; unless there has been a complaint. Secondly, bidders now have more rights.
They are going to know why their bids failed. There have been issues of where bidders have been told that they have failed when it is actually not true. We believe that this will empower bidders more.
For those who are corrupt, the measures in the amendments are more punitive. For example, if you are blacklisted by an organisation to which Uganda is a party, you will not be able to bid for a tender here. We are hoping that with this, we shall have a cleaner process.
The PPDA law has been criticised for putting too much focus on procedures rather than on results, how will this change with the amendments?
With the amendments, even if you have followed all the processes, and in the end, the cost is ten times that of the market price, we shall not award you the tender. If an accounting officer approves it, he will be held responsible. We are trying to ensure value for money. And we are going to do this with the cooperation of other oversight bodies as well.
Many people are awarded contracts but get paid at the end of the day even when they have done shoddy work, or no work at all. We will be paying more attention to value for money audits, which is a mandate of the Auditor General.
We have to make sure every road is worth the money that was paid for it. The new amendments will ensure you get the right goods and supplies at the right cost. Many people have been saying that once they go through the procurement process, all is well.
Have you heard about the saucepan that cost millions?
Under the new law, you must ensure the final price is reasonable. In the past; it was not an issue as long as there was competition in the bidding process. The amendments provide for a tribunal.
Who will constitute this tribunal and why do you think it is necessary?
The tribunal will be composed of five people; a chair and four other people. It will be chaired by a person at the level of a high court judge. The chairperson is appointed by the Finance minister in consultation with the Judicial Service Commission.
The tribunal is going to be above PPDA and it will have 10 days only to handle a complaint, unlike the court processes which take very long. This tribunal is supposed to expedite the hearing of complaints. Of course, we cannot oust the jurisdiction of the courts of law. If you are not satisfied with an entity and PPDA, instead of going to court, please go to the tribunal. It will be independent, and will work the way the tax tribunal and Uganda Revenue Authority do.
Are there other major changes to note in the amendments?
Most of our companies cannot compete favourably against their foreign counterparts due to many reasons. We are trying to remove some of these road blocks. One roadblock we are removing is that if you are participating under restricted bidding, you do not have to have bid security.
This has been a challenge to many companies. One will only need to have a bid securing document that will, for instance say; ‘I Sabiiti, guarantee that I am going to put in a bid at this price, and I will stick to this price when I am awarded the contract.
If I refuse to stick to the price, I accept to be blacklisted.’ We are also introducing preferences and reservation schemes in favour of Ugandans. For example, we have been working with local governments to ensure that markets and taxi parks are managed by people operating in them.
The reason is that we have been getting many businessmen from outside coming into these. So, only people who operate in such places will be allowed to apply for the tenders to manage them. The Solicitor General is supposed to approve all contracts of public entities above sh50m.However, this process takes long and affects service delivery.
How will you get around this?
The Attorney General, by statutory instrument, set this figure (sh50m). We believe this has now become obsolete. Even when a ministry wants to buy a car, it has to go through this process. Unfortunately, the amendments cannot amend the instruments of the Attorney General, but we have spoken to the minister to engage the Attorney General that this limit is increased because we have also increased our thresholds. One of the challenges affecting service delivery is contract management.
How is PPDA positioning itself to improve on this?
Contract management is more of a capacity issue. Sometimes, it starts with the wrong specifications. If for example, a classroom block is going to be built at a school, but the design was not done well, even if the contract award process was flawless, that final block will still be shoddy. We are now emphasising the capacity building, right from the first stage. Even the capacity to monitor projects in local governments is lacking.
We have cases of local governments which award contracts in hard to reach sub-counties, and no one goes to look at the project because there are no motorcycles. These people have to be equipped.
What is you final word to Ugandans?
Government is like a buyer, only that it is a big buyer. And government does not buy for itself, but for the population, and uses taxpayers’ money. Everyone should be interested in what the government is buying. Take interest in the projects initiated and ensure there is value for money. You are the beneficiaries of these roads, schools and hospitals.
PPDA Amends Law to Make Public Public Procurement Easier and Promote Ugandan Businesses, Products
Today, 3rd March 2014 the Amended PPDA Act and Regulations become operational. The amendments will significantly change the way public procurement is managed in Uganda in terms of efficiency, transparency and accountability. The Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets Authority (PPDA) was established in 2003 by an Act of Parliament, to regulate the public procurement processes in Uganda.
Take interest, it’s your money paying for public projects
A new chapter of procurement in Uganda opens with the amended Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets Authority (PPDA) Act coming into force today. BILLY RWOTHUNGEYO caught up with Cornelia Sabiiti, the Executive Director of PPDA for an interview delving into the amendments in the public procurement act and regulations.
Ugandan businesses and products to benefit from preference and reservation schemes
Key Implications of the Amendments
The Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets (PPDA) Act was enacted in 2003 to regulate public procurement and disposal activities in Uganda. The amendments to the Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets Act and Regulations have been amended in response to the public outcry about the delays in public procurement and service delivery
Complaints review procedure
What is administrative review?
Administrative review is the process of handling complaints arising out of alleged breaches in the procurement law or process. An administrative review is done when a complaint from a bidder is made, claiming to have lost or is at the risk of losing a tender due to a breach of procurement law or procedures by a procuring entity or competitors.
PPDA law to promote efficiency, accountability