New Vision (Kampala)

Uganda: Delayed Funding Affecting Contracts - World Bank

Delayed and erratic release of funds from the Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development to Procurement and Disposal Entities (PDEs) is adversely affecting contract management, a draft report titled 'Strengthening Contract Management Function in Procuring and Disposing Entities in Uganda's Public Sector Ministries, Departments and Agencies-World Bank Selection' released by the World Bank recently indicated.

The World Bank, with support of the Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets Authority (PPDA) engaged consultants from SGS Nederland B.V. who from October carried out a review of contract management in 16 public sector organisations, ministries, departments and agencies for eight weeks.

Below are some of the findings and recommendations of the report.

The report says that much as the PPDA Act 2003 brought order to a hitherto disorganised procurement system, nevertheless, the procedures are bureaucratic and long.

Much as the Procurement and Disposal Units have started introducing framework contracts, there is little understanding of them as other contracts are also being referred to as framework contracts, the report states.

The bid validity of 120 days is too long, the report, which recommends contract award with 45 days, reads in part. The report slams account departments on their knowledge as regards contractual requirements regarding payments.

"The standard contracts state that the contractor must be paid interest in the case of a delayed payment; of a right, without having to claim for it or provide any justification. There were no records of interest payments, so it is assumed there was no interest paid," the report says.

Due to the late release of funds from the finance ministry to the procurement units, noted in the report, many contractors are condemned to late payments. Information retrieval is still a nightmare for many PDEs, noted the report.

Particularly, a lack of discipline in the storage as information is not indexed, make it difficult to trace documents.

Recommendations

Continuous training should be carried out if contract management is to be better, the report advises. The appointment of contract managers should be formalised.

As regards the late release of finances from the finance ministry, the report urges finance officers to take prudent measures to ensure that invoices are paid on time.

"It is unacceptable to delay payments just because funds have not been released. If funds are not available, then

contractors and suppliers must be told to demobilise or delay deliveries until the funds are available," the report reads.

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