Public Procurement Bill may be answer to tangled law
National Treasury hopes the implementation of the draft Public Procurement Bill will help streamline procurement processes which have often been marred by allegations of corruption.
The draft Public Procurement Bill was first pushed in 2014 by the Cabinet and Treasury has since drawn up guidelines on how the new legislation will look.
The bill's ultimate aim is to consolidate the public procurement process into one single piece of legislation which will be applicable across the country, including provincial and local governments.
Currently, procurement legislations and supply management regulations have been spread out across different laws, including the Public Finance Management Act, which governs procurement at national and provincial spheres, while the Municipal Finance Management Act focuses on procurement in the local government sphere.
Many other pieces of legislation exist in governing the procurement space. The dozens of procurement requirements and legislation have enabled confusion in the procurement space and have also provided an avenue for corruption, said Estelle Setan, the acting chief public procurement officer at the National Treasury.
Setan, along with other officials, held a webinar on Wednesday to outline the bill's legislative practices to interested parties.
The inconsistencies in compliance and applications will be dealt with by the 10 chapter bill within a unified public procurement law.
Other changes will include the recasting of the National Treasury chief procurement officer position as a “procurement regulator”, which will have jurisdiction throughout the country on matters of public procurement.
The bill will also make a provision for preferential procurement, which is meant to allow for preference to be given to certain categories of disadvantage individuals – which will bring it in line with the constitutional requirements on procurement, Setan said.
A section of the bill which stated that the finance minister would set the framework to be followed in preferential procurement will be reworded as the requirement will be provided for in chapter four of the bill.
The preferential systems will also take into account the BBBEE Act and the preference points system (which is currently used in awarding contracts).
An alternative dispute mechanism will also be created, along with an independent tribunal – which will review decisions taken by the public procurement regulator and provincial treasury departments.
The draft legislation was gazetted and open for public comment in February.
Setan said so far, over 4 500 comments, 37 individuals and 134 companies have been submitted since the closure of public comments in June. Most of the comments centred on chapter five of the draft bill, which deals with the procurement methods and bidding processes.
It is envisaged that the bill will only be passed by Parliament at the end of 2022, following redrafting and further consultations with stakeholders, including Nedlac.