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‘Businesses claiming to be 100% Namibian must be vetted’

Deputy minister of finance and public enterprises Maureen Hinda-Mbuende has raised concerns over the trend of businesses claiming to be 100% Namibian solely for tender purposes.

She says it is widely suspected that these firms often resort to deceptive practices such as packaging and repackaging after being awarded contracts, or even operating as mere briefcase businesses.

“We need to interrogate the 100% ownership of real business models, as it is known that we have the phenomenon of packaging and repackaging, and in some cases briefcase businesses,” the deputy minister says.

Hinda-Mbuende, speaking at the launch of the strategic plan of the Central Procurement Board of Namibia (CPBN) yesterday, revealed that tenders worth over N$7 billion have been awarded in the country over the past five years.

However, she questioned how much of that N$7 billion was actually circulated locally and benefited Namibians.

“We need to measure real economic impact, or rather, how much of it is exported. The compliance audit for local procurement generally raised similar concerns,” Hinda-Mbuende said.

She also said the challenges faced by the tender board in meeting performance targets have not gone unnoticed, and the criticism surrounding its shortcomings is neither a secret, nor an understatement.

“The perception is that there are delays in the procurement process due to the poor management of the CPBN, coupled with inefficiencies. Therefore, it is my sincere hope that the new strategic plan will assist in improving better coordination with public entities, and continuous capacity development,” Hinda-Mbuende said.

Additionally, she said the strategic plan being launched by the tender board must transcend the status of a mere document to be filed away or forgotten over time, but should be a living, dynamic document that demands active implementation to yield tangible and positive outcomes.

“The strategic plan should be your dynamic compass that will guide you as an organisation through uncharted waters while capitalising on the opportunities that lie ahead of you,” Hinda-Mbuende said.

In its initial financial year of 2017/18, only one contract worth N$111 million was awarded, while the tender board granted 21 tenders totalling over N$2,2 billion in value between the last and current financial years.

CPBN chairperson Amon Ngavetene said it is essential to examine procurement statistics, and the most crucial question should be what the impact of these procurements on the lives of ordinary citizens have been.

He said the tender board is far more than just a procurement entity which, contrary to common perception, is not a mere transactional exercise designed to benefit a select few.

“Other than being seen as a mere procurement undertaking which the majority sees as a transactional exercise, we see the mandate of the board as having a social and economic transformation dimension,” Ngavetene said.

He said procurement plays a pivotal role in driving industrialisation, fostering manufacturing, creating employment opportunities and empowering communities.

“The fundamental sacrosanct question hovers around the impact of procurement on the life of the ordinary citizen. It is a salient aspect of our conduct that by virtue of accepting a role at the board we have entered into a social contract with our fellow countrymen and women,” Ngavetene said.

The strategic plan launched yesterday seeks to assist the CPBN in establishing future goals, while describing the strategies it will implement to reach them, defining the vision for the future, and serving as a roadmap to achieve business goals.