Mboweni urged to issue instruction to provinces to publish PPE contracts
Cape Town – The DA has urged Finance Minister Tito Mboweni to issue a formal National Treasury instruction that would require provinces that have not published Covid-19 procurement information, to do so.
DA MP Geordin Hill-Lewis said on Monday Mboweni has already called on provincial Treasuries and health departments to follow the Western Cape’s lead and publish this information.
"But he should go further, and issue a formal Treasury Instruction, in terms of Section 76 of the Public Finance Management Act, requiring them to do so within set time frames," Hill-Lewis said.
Mboweni made the call last week on provinces to publish the list of all companies awarded Covid-19 PPE contracts.
Hill-Lewis said the Western Cape has proactively published the details of all Covid-19 related expenditure.
He noted that an instruction issued by National Treasury Instruction in April exempted Provincial Treasuries from competitive bidding processes on procurement of PPE equipment, which was normal in a legitimate emergency, but crucially did not require special reporting transparency.
"This was a serious misstep that has opened the way for major corruption under ’emergency procurement’ regulations.
"National Treasury and Minister Mboweni must take some of the responsibility for the wide-scale looting of Covid-19 emergency funds by senior ANC figures and connected cronies," he added.
According to Hill-Lewis, Mboweni did not reply to his party's proposal of a special inspector-general for Covid expenditure they proposed in May.
He said their proposed special inspector-general would have had powers to interdict and stop corruption in real time, and would have stopped a lot of the disgraceful theft that is now being exposed after the fact.
"With both of these opportunities missed, Minister Mboweni now has an obligation to stop corruption by compelling Provincial Treasuries to publish their PPE procurement details in full," Hill-Lewis said.
The DA's call comes six days after the standing committee on finance and the select committee on finance said they would invite Mboweni this week to present the National Treasury’s guidelines on government procurement during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Committee chairperson Joe Maswanganyi had said the decision was taken in light of the wide-ranging corruption allegations involving provincial departments of health and some municipalities.
“We are alarmed by allegations in the public domain, whereby it is alleged that it is possible for a single company to be awarded a tender worth over R500 million to provide PPE," Maswanganyi said last week.
The MPs are hoping to be briefed on the mechanisms put in place by the National Treasury to ensure that a single procurement tender worth millions was divided into multiple small tenders in order to benefit as many SMMEs as possible.
After the presentation from Mboweni and the National Treasury, the committees will decide on whether to convene a joint meeting to be attended by provincial departments of health.