Treasury clamps down on tender fraud
Cape Town - The National Treasury on Wednesday released the long-awaited Draft Public Procurement Bill, which will criminalise interference in supply chain management processes and punish infringements by up to 10 years imprisonment.
Among the draft bill’s aims is to advance economic opportunities for previously disadvantaged people and women, youth, people with disabilities, small businesses and promote local production.
It also intends to create a single regulatory framework for public procurement to eliminate fragmented procurement prescripts.
“The public procurement regime in South Africa is currently fragmented as there are a number of laws which regulate procurement across the public administration. This fragmentation results in confusion as different procurement rules apply. Some of these laws pre-date the constitutional order brought about in 1994,” states Treasury in the draft bill.
It also criminalises knowingly giving false or misleading information or evidence, interfering with or exerting undue influence on any official of an institution or member of the Public Procurement Tribunal, which will be established, in the performance of their functions or in the exercise of power.
Opening sealed bid, including those submitted through an electronic system and any document required to be sealed, or divulging their contents prior to the appointed time for the public opening of the bid documents will also be illegal.
Officials who open, connive or collude to commit a fraudulent, corrupt, collusive or obstructive act, cause loss of public assets or funds as a result of negligence in the implementation of the act, once promulgated, will be committing offences and will be liable on conviction to a fine or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 10 years or to both.
In addition to the penalties to be imposed by courts, they may also order that the amount of loss incurred by the complainant be compensated, failure of which the court may issue an order of confiscation of personal property of the person convicted in order to recover the loss.
The draft bill also warns that if a person’s conduct in terms of the proposed statute constitutes an offence under the Prevention and Combating of Corrupt Activities Act (Precca), the offence must be dealt with in terms of Precca.
According to the draft bill, any person who without reasonable excuse fails or refuses to give information, produce any documents, records or reports required in terms of the act upon promulgation and delays, without justifiable cause, the evaluation of a bid or the awarding of a contract, commits an offence and is liable on conviction to a fine or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding three years or both.
Interested parties have until the end of May to comment on the draft bill.