By Benedetta Chiwanda Mia.

The Malawi Institute of Procurement Supply-MIPS has called on authorities to investigate if necessary steps were followed in procurement of Covid-19 resources amid allegations of plunder.

The call comes as news is awash on plunder of public resources that were set towards the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic, with President Lazarus Chakwera pointing out procurement process as one loophole where funds were swindled.

Alinafe Malisawa President for MIPs-said the Public Procurement and Disposal of Assets Authority-PPDA should quickly institute an investigation on how the procurement processes were conducted based on set regulations on the ground and if institutions had proper structures to conduct Covid-19 related procurements.

“If these allegations are indeed true, as MIPS we consider this issue of plunder of public resources as a serious issue of concern, and it is our hope that the relevant authorities are working on these issues so that accurate positions are established and where people are found to have flouted procedures, they should be held accountable and appropriate sanctions should apply” said Malisawa.

She added: “We therefore recommend that, the relevant authorities the PPDA in this case, should conduct investigations on the procurement processes, because section 5(1) stipulates that the PPDA is responsible for regulation, monitoring and oversight of public procurement and disposal of assets in Malawi.”

According to Malisawa, the procurement process is a long and involving procedure that involves many players and in some instances outer influences interfere with the processes more especially in public procurement.

She said most cases of mis procurements are characterized by a lot of influence from all angles to an extent that the Procurement officers in government whose grades are generally low, fail to advice or question what is happening.

The institution has also described as questionable the level of negligence in following proper procedures when guidelines were provided on procurement of covid-19 materials at the onset of the pandemic.

In March, 2020 having noted elements of abuse in Covid procurements as it was being seen as an emergency and where there was very little information as to what supplies will be required in preventing further spread of the pandemic, PPDA was very proactive and issued a circular in April, 2020 on how to conduct Covid related procurements.

The circular was well distributed to all government institutions who use public funds that is including Covid funds through Controlling Officers, and it is also available on the PPDA website.

However,  Masaliwa believes the latest revelations beg the question on how well the guidelines on the circular are being out to use.

“And yet here we are in February, 2021 almost 9 months after guidelines were issued, we are still hearing issues of abuse of funds in procurement of Covid related items.”added Malisawa

MIPS has since tipped authorities to rethink a number of issues pertaining to the countrys approach in relation to management of public procurement and other governance processes before funds are released to public institutions.

In addition, the association believes there is need for pragmatic reforms in practice and approach to public procurements and that there have got relatively to be strong laws and procedures with the challenge lying in putting all those into practice.

Malisawa has also recommended the need for government to incorporate relevant stakeholders such as the PPDA, MIPs and Malawi Law Society when conducting a review of procurement processes which is being championed by Vice President Saulos Chilima.

“In the course of the reforms, the Vice President should ensure that all stakeholders are involved such as MIPS, PPDA even the Ministry of Finance itself; it should be an overhaul approach.” said Malisawa.

Credit; MIJ Online

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