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Popularizing E-Procurement: PPDA Lures CSO Fraternity

The Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets Authority — PPDA, which regulates all public procurement involving Government money, has escalated efforts to popularize the new government system of electronic procurement by convening a meeting of leading voices in the Civil Society movement and NGO world where all basics regarding the e-GP project were explained.

The leading influencers in the NGO world had the opportunity to have all their fears addressed during a half day training workshop the Egp project office organized last week at Sky Hotel in Naguru.

Present was the eGP Project Manager Florence Nakyeyune whose presentation buttressed the general comments PPDA Ag ED Moses Ojambo had made during the opening ceremony.

The CSOs and actors in the NGO world are considered very critical because they have a vast network directly reaching communities sometimes more than even government does.

Nakyeyune told them it’s important that they make use of their own networks to popularize and deepen understanding about the eGP Project that seeks to stamp corruption out of the government procurement space and enhance service delivery.

She explained public procurement is an area on which CSOs should do a lot of advocacy because it’s where the 372 government Procurement & Disposal Entities (PDEs) spend up to 60% of the entire national budget every financial year.

She said that closely working with the Egp Project teams would greatly benefit NGOs and CSOs by enabling them access firsthand information with which they can intensify their watch dog roles over public entities that are entrusted with a significant fraction of the public pulse.

She was also optimistic that CSOs become interested and begin using their high levels of ICT appreciation and participate in training of potential users especially members of the bidding community who effective July 2021 will be required to 100% submit all their bidding documents electronically as paper procurement will be totally eliminated in the next two years.

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Piloting of the eGP commences with the FY2019/2020 with 10 pilot entities including UNRA, PPDA, NITA, KCCA, CAA, NSSF, Finance Ministry and that of Water. The other two entities are Jinja and Mpigi local governments.

Nakyeyune hoped that with the CSOs active involvement the fears the bidding community continues having about online bidding will gradually be demystified as was the case with mobile money or even the IFMIS which government introduced a few years ago and it now covers all government entities to facilitate online payments of all service providers doing business with government.

She explained that NITA will be at hand to ensure all government entities have adequate access to fast and affordable internet to facilitate online procurement processes. She said Uganda was lagging behind because actually all the neighboring countries 100% embraced online procurement many years ago which is why PPDA teams and other stakeholders have had to make benchmarking trips there.

The NGO bosses were happy to learn that a bidder will be free to recall and improve on his bidding documents as long as it’s not past submission deadline.

Nakyeyune explained quality assurance steps that had been taken to ensure confidentiality, integrity and security of bidder information submitted under the online system.

She explained the new system will eliminate corruption and delays in paying suppliers which has been a big problem. She explained a number of business centers and internet café managers would be trained and certified across the country to help train members of the bidding community who might have difficulties submitting bid documents under the new system.

Nakyeyune admitted it’s not an easy job because many powerful actors who have been riding on inefficiencies of the old system to fraudulently make money are already out working to sabotage the new system because it’s going to take away their financial clout.

Ex-MP Nathan Byanyima, who was among the CSO leaders at the meeting, encouraged her to be strong because the President, Cabinet, the PSST Keith Muhakanizi and Parliament are all solidly in support of the new $5m system which is funded by World Bank.

Ojambo said the fruitful partnership between Julius Makunda’s CSBAG and the Finance Ministry is proof there is a lot CSOs can achieve closely working with government. Nakyeyune said the fact that 53% of would-be potential bidders shun government procurements because they consider the system very corrupt and inefficient is proof the eGP intervention was long overdue.

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