ISLAMABAD: The federal government has directed the Public Procurement Regulatory Authority (PPRA) to overhaul its procurement rules in line with international best practices without compromising on the public sector obligations of probity and transparency as the existing rules have become an impediment to timely, efficient and quality procurement by government organisations, sources close to Secretary Finance told Business Recorder.

On March 30, 2024, Cabinet was informed that the Public Procurement Regulatory Authority, in compliance with Section 17 of the PPRA Ordinance, 2002, was required to submit its Annual Reports for the years 2008-2012 (consolidated), 2012-2013 (annual), 2013-2020 (consolidated) and for 2020-2021 (annual), for perusal of the Federal Cabinet, as authorised by the PPRA Board, prior to their release to the public.

It was specified that section 17 of the PPRA Ordinance, 2002, stipulated as follows: “within one hundred and twenty days from the end of each financial year, the Authority shall cause a report to be prepared on its activities including inquiries and investigations made by the Authority under this Ordinance during that financial year and release to the public after it has been seen by the Cabinet.”

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The Cabinet was informed that due to acute shortage of regular human resource since 2017, as well as, owing to the COVID-19 pandemic, there had been an inordinate delay in submission of the subject reports.

The Cabinet was further apprised that it was only during the FY 2020-21 that Managing Director, PPRA, had taken the initiative to get the consolidated Annual Reports completed for the missing years, which were approved by the PPRA Board in meetings. It was added that in the future the Authority would comply with the requirement of yearly submission of the annual report in accordance with section 17 of the PPRA Ordinance, 2002.

In pursuance of the statutory provision of section 17, PPRA Ordinance, 2002, PPRA placed its Annual Reports for the years 2008-2012 (Consolidated), 2012-2013 (Annual), 2013-2020 (Consolidated) and 2020-2021 (Annual), before the Federal Cabinet.

PPRA had also shared these reports with Cabinet members for perusal a fortnight prior to their placement in the meeting.

During the discussion that followed, it was observed that the public procurement rules had, in general, become an impediment to timely, efficient and quality procurement by government organisations and were causing serious implementation delays; and were also adversely affecting the quality of outcomes of government policies and initiatives.

The Chair observed that there was a need to review the public procurement rules in line with international best practices, so as to simplify them and make them enablers of efficient public procurement both in terms of cost and quality, consistent with the changing environment and emerging imperatives of modern governance, without compromising on the public sector obligations of probity and transparency.

It was further pointed out that the public procurement rules also needed to incorporate the differentiated needs of various government procuring agencies, particularly those that were responsible for large procurements, such as the energy sector.

The relevancy of the skill sets possessed by the human resource employed by PPRA also came under discussion. It was apprehended that the employees currently working in PPRA might not have the expertise and experience required by a public procurement regulating authority, for which a third party audit should be carried out and deficiencies addressed.

The Cabinet considered the summary titled ‘PPRA’s Annual Reports for the Years 2008-12 (Consolidated), 2012-2013 (Annual). 2013-2020 (Consolidated) and 2020-2021 (Annual)’ of February 15, 2024, submitted by the Cabinet Division and noted the position.

The Cabinet directed PPRA to: (i) hold consultations with relevant Ministries, in particular, Finance, Energy, Commerce, Defence, Industries & Production, National Food Security and Research, and Information Technology & Telecommunications, to determine the shortcomings in the existing public procurement rules; (ii) submit, within a period of 30 days, well-considered recommendations to make the public procurement rules consistent with the evolving imperatives of modern governance, in line with international best practices, without compromising on the public sector obligations of probity and transparency, as well as, to incorporate in these rules the differentiated needs of various government procuring agencies, particularly those that were responsible for large procurements ; and (iii) directed the Chairman, PPRA Board to arrange a third-party audit of PPRA to determine the relevancy of the skill sets possessed by the human resource working in PPRA vis-à-vis the skill set required by employees of a public procurement regulator, and to submit concrete recommendations, as soon as may be possible, for consideration of the Cabinet.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2024

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Leo Apr 09, 2024 03:09pm
PPRA is the mother of all coruptions
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