The KEPSA Gender and Youth Sector Board met with the Public Procurement Regulatory Authority (PPRA) in their monthly sector board meeting. The Sector Board Chair Ms. Eva Muraya, welcomed the PPRA Director General, Mr. Morris Juma to the meeting. She informed members that one of the strategic focus areas of the sector board is access to government procurement opportunities (AGPO) and while this has been facing unique challenges, a key concern as discussed in previous sector meetings is delayed payments.
Mr. Morris Juma gave a highlight of the new Public Procurement and Asset Disposal Act 2015 operationalized since January 2016. A cardinal principle is SMEs enjoying business opportunities as outlined in the Act. 30% procurement opportunities are set aside by the national and county governments for the Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities under the preference and reservations provisions. The SMEs are brought on board through registration with the National Treasury and the list is currently at 50,000 companies. Further, PPRA receives information from government ministries and agencies which after analysis, presents reports to the National Assembly and County Assembly.
He highlighted some of the challenges and interventions as including:
- Lack of Finance and expertise to implement the tenders. To this, PPRA has held discussions with various banks such as Equity and Barclays on providing credit to the target group in order to allow them access to credit to meet the tenders.
- Delayed payments are a major concern and PPRA is the first stop for any procurement dispute. Ideally, as per the law, payment should be made in 30 days and while this is not possible, the procuring entity should pay 50% upfront with a clear demonstration of how to clear the rest. Some of the reasons given by procuring entities include shift in government policy for instance if the budgets are reduced while the procurement process has begun.
- Submission of responsive bids is another challenge. Towards this, he noted the need for partnership with KEPSA in sensitizing members on the requirements. PPRA would be open to undertake tailor made trainings and will be happy to work with KEPSA on this.
He pointed out that as a way to encourage uptake, the bid bond which is an assurance that the successful bidder will execute the contract and provide the required performance, is no longer a requirement for SMEs. Further, the electronic procurement system was rolled out across the country to help eliminate barriers and procurement opportunities that can be accessed online on the PPRA and the National Treasury websites. Under enforcement which is another key aspect, PPRA and the Tribunal are fundamental players.
He informed members that PPRA is almost completing a study on challenges faced by SMEs on AGPO uptake and once finalized, it will be shared with the private sector. Further, PPRA is looking to opening offices outside Nairobi – in Nyeri, Eldoret and Garissa.
Members commended Mr. Juma for the presentation and made proposals such as linking PPRA with the Xaba platform which is spearheaded by Mr. Mike Macharia, CEO Seven Seas Technologies in order to avoid proxies and to ensure that the target group benefits while allowing the beneficiaries to rate the procuring entities. Additionally, they called for a review and restructuring of the process to ensure focus on sustainable entrepreneurs that are building products locally.
It was agreed that KEPSA would engage PPRA and National Treasury in the next three months on a wider platform to ensure input from different players/ sectors and to re-strategize on how the initiative can lead to job creation.