Recognising cartels ‘not rocket science’

2013-06-27 16:49

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The construction collusion that was revealed earlier this week by the Competition Commission took centre stage at the Business and Transparency conference today in Sandton.

Planning Minister Trevor Manuel did not miss the opportunity to express his views on the matter.

“We are not looking at one contract here but over 300 contracts. These companies acted as though nothing happened in 2006 when the sinister bread collusion was revealed.”

According to Manuel, while the construction collusion is a very serious infringement of the laws of the state, the bread collusion was far worse as it directly affected the poor.

The focus of the conference was to discuss how the private sector should become more transparent. The conference comes shortly after the Competition Commission fined 15 major construction firms a collective R1.46 billion for “rampant” collusion related to projects concluded between 2006 and 2011.

David Lewis, executive director of Corruption Watch, said procurement authorities should be enabled to recognise cartel formations.

“This is not rocket science. One example of this is when four companies hand in bid documents with the same spelling mistakes. This is where it starts. Procurement authorities must be able to pick these things up,” he said.

Manuel spoke about other kinds of corruption including the rampant issues of microlending in places like Marikana where, at times, miners’ salaries went to loan sharks.

According to Manuel, the abuse of supply-chain management in the public sector was also worrying. “For every public servant corrupted there is an individual for the public sector who is the corruptor.”

The conference was hosted by the SA Human Rights Commission in collaboration with the JSE and a number of business agencies.

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