THE PUBLIC Procurement Administrative Review Board has faulted some court decisions saying they pose a major challenge to its mandate. Public procurement accounts for between 60 and per cent of government budget.
Outgoing board chairman Mwaniki Gachoka yesterday criticised some past rulings ordering it to pay costs for determined cases. He also said some of the rulings have taken longer than the 30 days period provided under the Public Procurement and Disposal Act of 2005. The board under the Act is part and parcel of the judicial system as a special tribunal, and could not be ordered to pay expenses, he added.
Since the Act became operational in 2007, it had determined a total of 348 cases by end of last June, out of which 40 were appealed. "The High Court may agree or disagree with our determination just like the Court of Appeal can disagree with its ruling," Gachoka said. " But we don't have our own budget to bear costs ."
He cited a past ruling in which the High Court in Mombasa ordered the board to bear costs amounting to Sh10 million. "There was an incident where a judge who had surpassed the 30 days said he could not be dictated to by an Act of parliament," he added. He was speaking during the launch of the first public procurement law report covering period between 2008 and 2010 where the Chief Justice Willy Mutunga was to be the chief guest.
Mutunga's representative, Justice Richard Mwongo, asked the board to write to the CJ over the matter terming it unfortunate. "Costs should be paid by parties and not the board," said the judge. "Perhaps, the board should amend the law to give it indemnity." The public procurement and disposal Act is subject of an impending review that will, among other changes, give the board autonomy in its work.
Cabinet Secretary for National Treasury Henry Rotich, in a speech read by the economic secretary Geoffrey Mwau, promised to support the board that is independent from operations of PPOA secretariat.
"The National Treasury is committed to supporting PPOA and review board... .by availing adequate resources, developing enabling policies to guide the system and ensure the process of reviewing the procurement law is expedited." Mwongo is Gachoka's predecessor at the helm of the tribunal that was then known as Public Complaints and Appeals Board.