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Ending procurement graft tall order—PPDA

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Public Procurement and Disposal of Assets Authority (PPDA) Director General Eddington Chilapondwa has said it would be an insult to Malawians to say that corruption in public procurement will end tomorrow.

Chilapondwa was responding to a question from The Business Times on why public procurement scandals continue to dominate both the mainstream and social media despite measures and commitment to curb the same.

Speaking in Lilongwe on the sidelines of Internal Procurement and Disposal Committee (IPDC) Training for First Cohort, Chilapondwa said the rise of cases of corruption in public procurement is a fact that cannot be denied.

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“The challenge of ending corruption will be something that one would desire to achieve and it is also my desire to achieve. But sometimes let’s not promise Malawians the moon if you don’t have a rocket to fly there. We better speak of what we know.

“That’s why we better tell Malawians the steps we are taking towards ending corruption [other] than promising Malawians that tomorrow corruption will not be there only to find that you have more corruption than Tuesday. So, we want to be very careful when talking about issues of corruption,” Chilapondwa.

He said PPDA is taking some steps in containing public procurement corruption.

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He added that the second way to fight corruption in public procurement is to train the people who are involved in the buying process.

According to Chilapondwa, if the people directly involved in public procurement are trained and are indoctrinated in the ethics of public procurement, the country could contain the vice.

“In our care, as we are speaking to the public, particularly me as a public officer, I have to be honest with Malawians. It is an enemy of every Malawian and corruption should not be entertained. But to promise Malawians that corruption in public procurement will end tomorrow, I think it will be unrealistic,” Chilapondwa said.

The PPDA chief attributed increased awareness on public procurement scandals to the Public Procurement Act which, he said, has illuminated the public procurement process.

He said in the absence of the Public Procurement Act many things would have gone unnoticed.

According to Chilapondwa, because there is a law which has illuminated the process, Malawi has the PPDA which scrutinises the process from where bids go to ACB and then the Ministry of Justice where further scrutiny is done.

“In all these processes, government is trying to ensure that transparency is there. And that is why corruption is coming into the open. Had it been that there was no law, the bribes wouldn’t have been exposed,” Chilapondwa said.

Speaking in June this year when he unveiled the Anti- Corruption Bureau investigation report on allegations of bribery against public officers, President Lazarus Chakwera faulted the country’s procurement laws for fueling corruption in Malawi.

He observed that the ACB investigation also found that some public officers mandated to do due diligence and provide checks and balances allegedly neglected or failed to do so.

“This means that one driver of corruption in Malawi is the country’s procurement laws allowing contracts to be awarded to companies without regard for the beneficial ownership of those companies which allows business persons to capture the State through unknown contract monopolies,” Chakwera said.

He added that some procurement processes are too cumbersome to follow as laid down in the law.

Chakwera then directed the Ministry of Justice to fast-track the new procurement legislation to help rectify gaps in procurement procedures.

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