Johannesburg – Gauteng MEC of Finance Barbara Creecy says that tenders which do not meet procurement criteria are dully cancelled.
Creecy was speaking during a panel discussion at the Open Tender Seminar held in Midrand on Tuesday. The system was established as part of the Gauteng government’s effort to find ways to restore confidence in public procurement processes by promoting transparency.
This follows a statement issued by the DA, which called out David Makhura’s administration for taking “little action” against errant officials. The Public Service Commission’s (PSC) report late last year indicated that only 3% of all provincial government officials involved in 122 cases of financial misconduct amounting to R67m faced criminal charges.
However Creecy said: “We take allegations [of corruption] seriously and we deal with them.” She added that officials are disciplined for irregular expenditure. “It starts not only with the small fish, but also the big fish in the system,” she added. All officials are disciplined, last year former head of department was dismissed for financial mismanagement.
When the Auditor General identifies irregular expenditure in a particular department, the MEC is held accountable for the process and they are expected to report to the premier. Steps are taken to discipline officials for irregular expenditure.
The DA criticised the provincial government for “moving at a snail’s pace” in implementing the open tender system. In the last financial year, the project was extended to 15 tenders across five provincial government departments. In 2016, the project has established 72 tender programmes, coming to R10.4bn, said Creecy.
The adjudication process is open to the public, explained Creecy. Anyone competing for a bid can participate. Members of the public are allowed to watch and listen to how decisions are being made, but not participate. This is a way to show taxpayers that the “best suppliers” are chosen and that government receives value for its money.
“When we began the process, we had the intention to bring transparency and shine light over process the process. This is the best medicine to address concerns by people that things are happening, that should not be happening,” she said.
As a result of opening up the adjudication process, new entrants to the system received training. By seeing how decisions are made, they have been “empowered” for when they bid for tenders in future, explained Creecy. This means they can adjust their bids to ensure that the tenders are awarded to them.
Creecy said there are other supply chain initiatives to support new entrants to the system. One is a township revitalisation project. In the past financial year, the Gauteng government spent R6bn of its budget to procure goods and services from townships. The provincial government also registered township suppliers to its database. Last year April, 1000 suppliers were registered, currently there are 7000 suppliers registered.Read Fin24's top stories trending on Twitter: Fin24’s top stories