Analysis: JOSHUA BANDA
FAILING to plan is planning to fail, goes an old adage. When activities are being conducted haphazardly without a predetermined plan to go by, the risk of plunging into the bottomless pit is imminent.
Planning takes place at different levels of society. It can take place at international level, regional level, country level, company level or church level.
At national level, by 2030, Zambia plans to attain the status of a prosperous middle-income nation. To achieve this, the country has set various objectives it intends to meet which are all pointing to 2030.
A fully fledged ministry of development and planning has been created to drive the agenda of development and planning in the country. Successful economies are ever planning how to accelerate their economic odometers.
By close of 2017, the government intends to achieve GDP of 3.4 percent. Will the procurement profession help government achieve this dream? The theme for this year’s budget is “Zambia Plus”. What “Plus” will the profession make before this financial year ends?
As we may all be aware that total export earnings declined in the last nine months of 2016 compared with the corresponding period in 2015. Earnings from copper fell to US$3.2 billion from US$4 billion. Earnings from non-traditional exports declined to US$1.3 billion from US$1.6 billion. Certainly, this situation was as a result of unfavourable international commodity prices as observed by experts.
Before 2017 ends, the government intends to set up 20 irrigation schemes and complete the construction of fingerling centres in Rufunsa, Mungwi, Kasempa and Chipepo. Additionally, during the course of the year, government intends to facilitate the development of the Kafue Iron and Steel Economic Zone and Kalumbila Multi Facility Economic Zone. The accomplishment of all these activities hinge on planning. The country cannot spend what it does not have. The meagre resources must be well-directed to avoid the risk of misapplication and misappropriation if the intended objectives are to be met.
Procurement professionals are experts in planning and must take a leading role in ensuring that all planned activities appear in the annual procurement plan. Public Procurement Act No. 12 of 2008 requires that all procuring entities prepare a procurement plan and submit a copy to Zambia Public Procurement Authority (ZPPA).
Annual procurement planning helps the procuring entity to come up with a detailed description of goods, works or services the entity plans to procure. Owing to the lengthy procurement process, the procurement plan can be used to determine when to commence and end the process of procurement. It helps to establish the quantities required and the estimated cost and subsequently determination of the procurement method. The plan will dictate how long it should take to prepare the solicitation documents and to seek “No Objection” if required. The moment the tendering process starts running, the bid closing date is ascertained and the bid evaluation date can be set. The date for notification of award can equally be set. At this stage, the procurement plan will allow the procuring entity to predetermine when draft contracts will be delivered to Attorney General’s office for clearance and subsequent signing of the contract. Of great importance, the procurement plan will be able to indicate the duration of the contract.
If all procuring entities were developing and implementing their annual procurement plans, the country would experience shared prosperity and promotion of equitable development across the country. This would greatly restore credibility of procurement planning and minimising unplanned expenditures and contribute to the economic recovery programme.
This will enhance realistic continued implementation of infrastructure such as roads which support economic growth and foster regional trade. Such roads may include, but not limited to Chingola- Solwezi, Kitwe-Chingola dual carriage way, Lusaka- Chirundu, Chinsali-Nakonde and Solwezi-Kipushi.
The government intends to install 144 fabricated bridges on feeder roads across the country and to rehabilitate access roads within game parks. The National Road Tolling programme is accelerating the construction of toll sites across the country such as Shimabala, Chongwe, Mumbwa and Katuba. A million-dollar question is, how are procurement planning experts helping to ensure a quick economic recovery and boom?
The author is the chairperson for Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply (CIPS) Zambia.