Rwanda Public Procurement Authority (RPPA) has called on contractors to increasingly use e-procurement system while applying for different public tenders to ensure time management, transparency and cutting expenses spent in bidding processes.The call was made during a meeting on 'the role of public procurement on the country's economic growth' that brought together entrepreneurs and procurement officers from public institutions across the country.
The meeting was held Friday in Musanze District.
Celestin Sibomana the in charge of capacity building at RPPA said the e-procurement will enhance professionalism, honesty and transparency in public procurement as it only approves bidders who have fulfilled the requirements.
"We want transparency in public tendering and both bidders and public institutions offering tenders should be responsible to ensure its successful implementation," he said.
Meanwhile, the meeting sought to address some of the existing challenges in public procurement.
For instance, some contractors have been blamed for not paying suppliers or delaying to pay them during the execution of public tenders, an anomaly that the contractors blame on some of the public institutions that at times delay to disburse payments.
Sibomana said it would not be fair for a public institution to fail to pay a contractor who has successfully executed the work for which they were contracted, saying that they will continue to play an advocacy role to ensure people are paid on time.
"Public institutions issue tenders after making sure they have the budget but I think some contractors fail to get paid on time either when the public institutions' budget is delayed or because the money is channeled to other activities," he said.
He said the sustainability of public procurement depends on everyone's contribution from both the institution that provides a tender and bidders.
Fred Nkezabera, the procurement Officer at Tumba College of Technology, said such discussions give a platform to address a number of issues that would create conflicts or misunderstandings between contractors and the institutions they [procurement officers] represent while hailing the digital platform to encourage digital storage and transparency in providing tenders.
Alexandre Nemeyimana, one of the contractors, said the new system will address issues of corruption that exists in public tenders, although there are some who still need capacity building on using the system for improved procurement sustainability.
Addressing forgery in procurement
The Auditor General reported 180 contractors were blacklisted from applying for any other public tenders due to forging bidding documents used in tenders before e-procurement system was introduced in July 2016.
Richard Migambi, the coordinator of e-procurement project at RPPA, said the digitization of procurement applications will reduce cases of corruption attempts caused by physical contacts between bidders and procurement staffs during the tender processes.
He said, "Some contractors won previous tenders using forged documents but they cannot manipulate the system nor will they find any occasion of corrupting the procurement staff to win tenders. "
He added that the new system will improve quality of tenders while it will also increase competition among bidders to ensure value for money during tender applications.
RPPA reports that between 5000 and 6000 contractors compete for public tenders according to the survey conducted ion 2014. However, 3500 bidders are said to be registered in the system so far since it was launched in July 2016 and are only allowed to compete for public tenders.
The government has injected USD 7 million in the e-procurement project, according to RPPA.