Bid rigging is a problem that plagues governments procurement around the world and it costs taxpayers billions of dollars, says Naffie Barry, the permanent secretary at the Ministry of Trade, Industry, Regional Integration and Employment.
She was speaking Wednesday at the opening of the jointly organised workshop of the Gambia Competition Commission (GCC) and Gambia Public Procurement Authority (GPPA), held at the Sun Swing Hotel in Kotu. She explained that bid rigging occurs when companies that bid to provide a good or service join together in advance and rig their bids. "It is usually with the objective of ensuring the buyer pays more money," he added.
PS Barry said research undertaken by the OECD has shown that when companies collude and form a cartel, the cost of goods and services can increase by 20 percent or more and the most immediate victims of such cartel are its customers. She noted that in a situation when the customers are government agencies, cartels harm taxpayers and therefore the whole economy.
According to her, the impact is particularly serious when collusion affects the provision of an essential good for the lives and wellbeing of citizens like health care, transport and agriculture, among others. She said the guidelines for fighting bid rigging in public procurement are based on best practices from around the world and focuses on how government contracting rules and procedures can make bid rigging more difficult for contractors and on aiding government officials to identify suspicious bidding. She however applauded the partnership and cooperation between the GCC and GPPA on this training and the efforts to educate and bring to the attention of everyone the effects and how to end the practice of bid rigging.
Alhaji TSA Njie, the chairman of GCC, stressed the necessity of ensuring a competitive economy for the greater welfare of all Gambians. He said any changes made will be presupposed awareness hence it is important to make the public know that there is an Act that prohibits die-competitive behaviour.
Njie noted that about half or two-third of the government budget is spent on procurement of goods and services; this, he said, is a lot of billions of dalasis. He reminded participants that the efficiency of procurement process can substantially result to saving and deploy to other areas like education, health, roads and among others.
Amadou Ceesay, the executive secretary of GCC, said the purpose of the training is to promote competition hence bid rigging is prohibited under the Act.He explained that they are partnering with GPPA in order to train people on how to detect bid rigging, and also train government institutions that are involved in procurement on the relevant guidelines.