Ensuring value for money in the use of public funds has always been the overarching ambition of the National Public Procurement Authority (NPPA) Chief, Ibrahim Brima Swarray.
To actualise the value for money principle in the public sector, certain safeguards have been put in place by the NPPA Chief to block financial leakages.
Mr Swarray has tirelessly worked to ensure sanity in the country’s procurement sector by putting in place the required legal and policy framework. Championing the enactment of the Public Procurement Act of 2016 and the Public Procurement Regulations, 2020 stand as glowing testimonies.
With the right legal and policy mechanism in place, the NPPA Chief has succeeded in saving billions of Leones for the country.
During the launch of the Procurement bulletin yesterday at Ministry of Planning and Economic Development conference hall, Mr Swarray thrilled the audience to know that quite recently, the sum of Le12 Billion Leones had been saved for Sierra Leone through the cancellation of bad contracts in various Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDA’s) of government.
Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Local Government, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Sierra Leone Roads Authority, Freetown City Council, Sierra Leone Cable, Accountant-General’s Department are among institutions identified by NPPA Chief to have cost the nation the said had the bad contracts implemented.
Of all afore-mentioned ministries, the Ministry of Agriculture was set to have wasted Le11 Billion out of the Le12 Billion.
Audit Service Sierra Leone was also singled out by the NPPA Chief as one that would have also had a fair share of the intended loss of public funds.
“With all accolades given to Audit Service Sierra Leone, NPPA saved Le193 Million in the agency,” He explained.
It is against this backdrop that Mr Swarray called the public to read the procurement bulletins so that the purse holders would be vigorously challenged in respect of how they use tax payers’ money.
Mr Swarray also told the audience that the discipline of procurement is one that he promised to “jealously guard” so that the ‘people’s money’ could be protected.
The NPPA Chief further called on procurement professionals in MDA’s to be proactive and not to participate in blame games.
“All of us can attest to the fact that we shout when things happen. As a nation, we prefer blame games,” Mr Swarray said.
To move away from the blame game circle, he went on, procurement practitioners had o be proactive noting that there were a lot of indicators NPPA had to be dealt with.
The NPPA equally noted that most of the conflicts the country had been experiencing had bearing on the country’s resources adding that resource management is crucial to government.
“Most of the conflicts we have in our society is about resources. Resource management is therefore key,” NPPA Chief emphasised.
Mr Swarray strongly believes that it is only when high level of transparency and accountability is ensured in the management of public funds that the potential for conflict in society be eradicated.
He is also quite hopeful that the regulatory agency, NPPA would succeed in ensuring value for money through the framework of the law.
“As a regulatory body, we have to ensure that what people need to know is published on the basis of the law,” NPPA Chief maintains.
“Every activity undertaken in procurement circles is published for the people of Sierra Leone to see, to read and raise the red flag as possible,” he emphasised.
The Chief hopes that the regular publication of the bulletin would make that possible.
Encouraging the people of Sierra Leone to read the manual, Mr Swarray sees it as a challenge he has thrown to Sierra Leoneans so that they could be better positioned challenge and checkmate custodians of state resources.
“All of us have to challenge the people who use our money,” he appealed.
Towards this direction, NPPA Chief called on civil society organisations, non- governmental organisations and the media to challenge and hold accountable public institutions regarding the use of public money.
“You need to join NPPA to see how the processes can be done properly especially where there are facts, NPPA Chief further appealed. The NPPA Chief however acknowledged and commended public institutions that have been doing well in ensuring that the people’s money is saved.
The Anti- Corruption Commission, Audit Service and National Revenue Authority are among those institution that been identified for doing what is right in terms the sound management of public funds.
An official at the Ministry of Water Resources Alhaji Umaru Kabba has been described as “compliant of procurement rules and regulations. The NPPA Chief therefore used the platform to urge other Procurement officers to emulate Kabba’s foot steps.
,”We expect every institution to do the same thing so that when NPPA or Audit you Service gets to your office the necessary documentation is in place. They must be readable and compliant of procurement laws, rules and regulations,” he said.