CHIMWEMWE MWALE, Livingstone
ZAMBIA Institute of Purchasing and Supply (ZIPS) has proposed that Government terminates pending contracts, which it has not funded and are accruing penalties.
In an interview on Friday, ZIPS president Chibwe Mwelwa recommends that Government should only place orders for contracts which it has funded.
His comment comes after Minister of Finance Felix Mutati urged purchasing and supply personnel to respect and implement projects and procurement milestones for government projects to avoid unnecessary delays and costs through economic fundamental movements and penalties from suppliers.
But Mr Mwelwa said Government should terminate or reschedule all pending contracts that have not been funded as it is losing colossal sums of money through payments for “standing time”.
He said this is because the Zambia Public Procurement Agency (ZPPA) Act stipulates that contracts should not be awarded when there is no funding.
“You cannot award the contracts when there is no money, so they should stop awarding those contracts because if you do so, when there is no money the contractor may not finish the works and will abandon it and Government is losing a lot of money in that process,” Mr Mwelwa said.
Mr Mwelwa said the tender processing time cannot, however, be reduced as it is necessary for thoroughly assessing contractors and transparency.
This is also in tandem with international standards which require advertising of the tender in six weeks if the supplier is from outside the country and is also as enshrined in the Act.
Mr Mwelwa said the evaluation process is important in picking a contractor and cannot be shortened or eliminated.
“If you don’t evaluate the contractor properly, then you won’t have the works you want. In public procurement, you also have to inform the public on intention to award a contract to someone for transparency,” he said.
The periods taken in the tendering processes are also enshrined in the Act and that the Attorney General should endeavour to clear the contracts early for more efficiency in the procurement process.
Mr Mwelwa, however, said the challenge in the process and abandoning of works is largely due to Government’s failure to pay the contractor.