Gauteng moves ahead to decentralise open tender system
Gauteng finance MEC Nomantu Nkomo-Ralehoko says her department would still keep an eye on the implementation of the open tender system by other departments as the provincial government moves to decentralise it.
On Thursday, Nkomo-Ralehoko delivered this financial year’s R142.6bn budget at the provincial legislature, which she said was projected to increase to R148bn in the medium term.
Nkomo-Ralehoko said the provincial administration was intensifying transparency in procurement to help curb tender corruption, including through decentralising the open tender system, where departments would now be able to take responsibility for it.
“Next month, we will commence with phase 3 of this process which entails the decentralisation of the open tender process to four department and six entities, namely, community safety, agriculture and rural development, e-government and provincial treasury. The entities are Enterprise Propeller, Gambling Board, Infrastructure Financing Agency, Film Commission, Partnership Fund and Tourism Authority,” she said.
This would mean department and state-owned entities would now, on their own, set up adjudication panels for the process and appoint probity auditors.
The move to decentralise the tender system was viewed as having a potential of opening loopholes for individual departments to undermine its intended purpose of ensuring both fairness and openness around tenders issued by the provincial government.
Nkomo-Ralehoko, however, insisted departments had to be given space to take accountability for the expenditure of the money allocated to them, including the awarding of contracts.
“We want the accounting officers to take full responsibility from their departments. We will still have a team that works with them. Our role as treasury is oversight over all departments on the finances that have been allocated to them,” she said.
The open tender system, through which 177 contracts have been awarded by the provincial government, has only been used for projects valued at R29bn to date.
The suspension of the process during the Covid-19 pandemic has seen large-scale looting through tender corruption and irregularities within the province, especially in the procurement of personal protective equipment (PPEs).
Nkomo-Ralehoko said the provincial government was still committed to increase transparency on how the billions of rands had been spent during the pandemic.
“In this regard, last week we published the sixth Covid-19 expenditure disclosure report, detailing how much money was spent procuring goods and services related to the fight against the pandemic by each department. The reports include the names of service providers who did business with the state and how much they did charge,” she said.