- Published on Monday, 02 July 2012 03:45
- Written by KARL LYIMO
- Hits: 1480
BY definition, to ‘nibble’ is to take gentle, small or cautious bites at something. On the other hand, to ‘bite’ is to seize with the teeth or jaws so as to grip or wound; to sting (like a bee, causing sharp pain or discomfort); gnaw by persistent biting (much like a dog gnawing a bone)…
The foregoing has been prompted b a press report published in Dar es Salaam on June 24 this year. The report was about the Public Procurement Regulatory Authority (PPRA) which, for all practical purposes, merely ‘nibbled’ at several firms which it believes to have been involved in public procurement chicanery. Apparently, the Authority has suspended 34 private companies from bidding in public procurement contractual offers for one year for what is virtually cheating: “illegal business conduct!”
To quote the press report: “the suspension puts the companies out of business for one year as a punishment — and a means to force them to comply with the Public Procurement Act” and pertinent regulations made thereunder. (Tanzania Govt. Notice No. 97 of 2005.
“If they do not change within one year,” the Acting Chairman of the PPRA Board, retired Justice Thomas Mihayo, stated when addressing a press conference at the Authority’s Head Office in Dar on June 22 this year, “we will deregister them from the list of Public Procurement Companies!” [The Citizenon- Sunday: June 24, 2012]. Is that all? I ask you!
According to Justice Mihayo, 26 of the companies (G-26) were suspended for failing to implement public procurement deals with public institutions, which is contrary to their contracts! A list of the companies reads like a Who-is-Who on indigenous entities, either bearing ‘Tanzanian’ names (‘Mbilinyi;’ ‘Mwamlima’; ‘Ngeleja’; ‘Nzori’…) or locations in Tanzania, such as ‘Ukerewe;’ ‘Nyanda’…
The other eight firms (G-8) were suspended for collaborating with public officials to steal public funds, the press report states.
“Some public officials are dishonest, paying the companies fraudulently,” Justice Mihayo bluntly stated… As a former Judge of impeccable credentials in ways more than one, the man must know what he’s talking about like the back of his hand! Again, the G-8 list reads like a collection of indigenous operators and companies across the land: ‘Nyegezi;’ ‘Tengo’…
Indeed, Regulation 102(2) of Tanzania Govt. Notice No. 97/2005 provides for the suspension of non-performing, underperforming and other public procurement contractors of dubious probity from the list of entities ‘authorised’ to participate in public procurement bidding processes.
It isn’t quite clear how many companies are on the ‘approvals’ register today. Nor are the criteria used to select and register such ‘qualifiers.’ But, surely, if nearly three dozen registered prospective/potential bidders have been perceived as underperformers, corrupt, fraudsters and suchlike unwholesome bodes in due course of time and events, then one’s tempted to question the selection criteria — and if they’re complied with in spirit and to the letter when registering prospective bidders! Secondly, if — as Justice Mihayo has clearly noted in his press briefing — the 34 companies were perceived to have been cheats, fraudsters and nonperformers, why did the Board stop at simply suspending them?
And: why merely consider them for deregistration a year hence, “if they don’t change within one year?” Sages have said down the ages that leopards can’t, won’t, don’t, change their spots. Why’d companies which have virtually been caught red-handed in the act be given a second bite at the cherry? Why, indeed? Is Tanzania short of such entities? Is it? I ask you! One would’ve rightly expected the PPRA Board — which, no doubt, is well-equipped with legally-sharp teeth — to ‘bite’ perceived perpetrators regardless, rather than merely bark or nibble at them! For starters, the 26 underperformers should be hauled to some tribunal or other to recover over their contracts.
The law’s quite clear on this, thus providing judicial remedy to aggrieved parties regarding contractual obligations! The eight fraudsters should be charged in Court for criminal perpetrations, period! As the Board noted, “they collaborated with public officials to steal public funds. Some public officials are dishonest, as they paid the companies fraudulently!” Presumably, there’s substantive evidence for criminality here, and if the relevant authorities, including the Board, don’t promptly take positive steps against the companies, this could be counterproductive…
The firms may turn the tables against the Board, suing it for wrongful this, that and the other! And, unless and until this is done as a matter of course — and is seen to be carried to its logical conclusion — Tanzania will continue to wallow in abject poverty and criminality forever and anon! Over to you, PPRA! Cheers!