GPPA urged to set standards for LG procurement staff

GPPA urged to set standards for LG procurement staff

The chairperson of the Local Government Commission of Inquiry (LGCI), Jainaba Bah Sambou, has urged the Gambia Public Procurement Authority (GPPA) to set standards for the appointment of members of Specialised Procurement Unit (SPU).

The suggestion came amid concern by the Commission that members of committees in councils, such as contracts committee, evaluation committee, were mostly not formally appointed. The issues also include continuous dormancy of committees and lack of adherence to procurement regulations, rules and laws in carrying out transactions.

Director general of GPPA, Foday Jaiteh, and head of Procurement Policy and Operations at GPPA, Ebrima Sanyang, appeared before the Commission yesterday and testified simultaneously.

During Tuesday’s testimony, Chairperson Jainaba Bah Sambou said: “You made reference to section 50 of the [GPPA] Act with respect to the establishment of the SPU. If you go further, I asked for whether you provided for the levels, [and] you said ‘no’. But if you look at your act, section 51, it clearly states what you are supposed to do as an authority. Please read it for us.”

“Staffing of the specialised procurement unit shall be staffed with personnel who are well-trained in public procurement and whose professional qualification with the special requirements that may be established in accordance with guidelines to be issued by the authority,” the witness cited section 51 of the GPPA Act.

“So the Act is telling you what to do with levels of qualification, etc.,” the chairperson put to the witness.

“Yes, the level of qualification, but in terms of what the head of a unit should be, whether it should be a clerk or an officer or a director is not indicated,” the witness responded.

The chairperson reiterated to the witness that what she was saying is that the Act has given them (GPPA) the authority to “set the standards and say this is what is supposed to happen.”

“That is what I am saying. May be you did not avert your mind to that. So I am just drawing your mind to that,” she said.

GPPA’s DG Foday Jaiteh, who was also testifying yesterday simultaneously with Ebrima Sayang, agreed with the chairperson, saying she was absolutely right. “And I think, although I have to verify, the draft regulation, the 2023 Regulation, has taken this into account. But you are absolutely right. The act has given us authority to set the standards,” Mr Jaiteh said.

The chairperson added: “The reason why I am raising this is because he [Ebrima Sanyang] made the explanation that in some areas there are procurement units headed by a director, which shows the different levels.

“But then if you want to make sure the councils are efficient in the disbursement and procurement of goods and services, you must set the standards. And if you set the standards, it will be easy for you to do your compliance, because you [will] know the staff responsible will not give you reasons for not complying because they know.

Lead Counsel Yakarr Cox later intervened, saying that the Local Government Scheme of Service does not contain provisions for procurement staff.

She thus recommended that the GPPA look into the issue and work with the councils to ensure there is such provision.

Source: The Point

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