The lower chamber of parliament has requested the Prime Minister to amend the law governing public procurement in a bid to address challenges in the execution of public tenders.
The Chamber of Deputies made the resolution on March 2 as it adopted a report of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) on the current procurement law, which was enacted in 2018.
PAC Chairperson, Valens Muhakwa, said poor planning, delays in executing contracts and paying contractors as well as loopholes in some provisions of the law are some of the challenges undermining the efficiency in public procurement.
In order to better analyse the issues in the current law, Muhakwa said that the committee held talks with Nyarutarama Property Developers, the Private Sector Federation (PSF), the Rwanda Public Procurement Authority (RPPA), the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of Trade and Industry and the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning.
On delays in executing contracts, Muhakwa observed that sometimes the public agency that offered a tender takes long to carry out necessary works such as compensating the expropriated property owners in order to pave the way for a project.
As a result, the contractors incur losses because the project implementation period is counted from the date of signing the contract.
However, the law does is silent on what should happen in case there are delays stemming from government inefficiencies.
According to members of parliament, the current law provides that all invoices should be paid within 45 days, but does not provide for what happens when that period is not observed.
This situation, MPs said, can be a loophole for injustice and corruption.
However, the law provides for punishment against a contractor who has not done work on time.
Indeed, article 181 on penalty relating to delay in contract execution stipulates that the successful bidder incurs a penalty equivalent to one thousandth (1%) of the total of the contract for each day of delay. Such penalty shall not exceed five per cent (5%) of the value of the contract, the law states.
PAC said that contractors want that the same be applied to government entities.
Still, Muhakwa said that the delays in payment force contractors to charge the government highly for the work or service execution.
"In the costs that they charge the government, they include probable fees that they will be charged by financial institutions because they know it (government) will delay paying them," he said.
MP Georgette Rutayisire said that the delays in paying contractors have been persisting and it need urgent attention.
"There are contractors who said that they had not been paid for two years [after doing the work,]," she said.