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ACB, PPDA quizzed over delays

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The Commissions, Statutory Authorities and State Enterprises Committee of Parliament on Tuesday quizzed Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) and the Public Procurement and Disposal of Assets (PPDA) officials over delays in public procurement processes.

The meeting was a result of numerous complaints from stakeholders that there have been protracted delays in recent months.

Some of the contracts are related to contracts under the Global Fund aimed at serving Malawians are stuck at the PPDA and the funds risk being withdrawn if procurement delays persist.

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Global Fund officials recently visited PPDA and told PPDA officials that their programmes or contracts have timelines and procurement delays would simply block them from meeting such timelines with a possibility of withdrawing funds.

Some of the Global Fund contracts stuck at PPDA include that involving the procurement of three gas plants for Bwaila, Kasungu and Mangochi hospitals; extension of warehousing and distribution of nets; procurement of external auditors; request for ‘No Objection’ for single sourcing for ScanForm Technologies and extension in-country logistics for Bolore.

Asked to explain Global Fund’s frustrations with PPDA, Global Fund/Gavi Programme Implementation Unit Manager under the Ministry of Health Doreen Sanje said the Ministry of Health was better placed to comment.

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Ministry of Health spokesperson Adrian Chikumbe confirmed Global Fund’s visit to PPDA where they expressed worry over procurement delays for their contracts.

Chikumbe said, just like ministries, departments and agencies, (MDAs), the Ministry of Health is equally worried about delays at PPDA to process procurement contracts.

“Yes, we can confirm [that they visited and that they listed contracts stuck at PPDA]. We, as a ministry, would, like all other MDAs, want approvals to be made as soon as possible.

“However, we are of the view that, in the interest of ensuring prudence, transparency and efficiency in the disbursement and utilisation of financial resources, set rules and guidelines must always be followed,” Chikumbe said.

When PPDA and the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) appeared before the Commissions, Statutory Authorities and State Enterprises Committee of Parliament yesterday, there was a blame-game on the delays.

The meeting was a result of numerous complaints from stakeholders that the processes have been delayed in recent months.

During the meeting, ACB Director General, Martha Chizuma, pushed the blame on the Procurement Disposal Entities (PDEs).

Chizuma pointed out that there were either untrained procurement officers in PDEs or deliberate delays were made for corruption-related reasons.

She said procurement is a process that starts from the PDEs; as such, if the officers do “shoddy” work, it affects the whole procurement process.

Chizuma said most of the corruption cases in Malawi come from procurement and the amounts of money being lost are quite heartbreaking.

“There could be that element as well, that also delays things, because, probably, they have to present things in a certain manner which maybe is not the correct manner,” she said.

While citing several challenges, PPDA also pointed at the lack of qualified procurement officers in PDEs.

The PPDA told the committee that out of 230 PDEs in MDAs, only 19 have qualified staff.

PPDA Board Member Sam Chimang’anga told journalists, after the meeting, that there were several interventions that the authority was implementing, including the digitalisation of its internal processes to improve efficiency.

He said interviews have already been conducted to recruit new staff members at PPDA to reach the recommended 88 from the current 51.

Commissions, Statutory Authorities and State Enterprises Committee of Parliament Chairperson, Isaac Kaneka, indicated it would provide a report and make recommendations on the matter.

“ACB is pushing the blame to PDEs. I am not surprised because this morning, when we had PPDA, they also mentioned the same.

“We will have to discuss with our seniors to see how to reach out to these people and what advice we can give. I am saying this because what we do as a committee is to file a report and make recommendations,” he said.

The committee has also commended procurement officers’ training.

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