As many as 105 companies and suppliers were suspended from a bidding process over forgeries of documents in the last two financial years. Some of the documents forged by suppliers include; powers of attorney, income tax returns documents among others.
This is according to records from the Public Procurement and disposal of Public Assets Authority, the principal regulator of public procurements. PPDA is supposed to monitor compliance of procuring and disposing entities.
“We have suspended big firms over forgeries. We have actually suspended 105 out of 306 suspension cases [against] suppliers for engaging in unacceptable practices through the bidding process,” Ronald Tumuhairwe, manager capacity building at PDDA said.
Tumuhairwe was speaking during the 3rd annual suppliers conference organized by Bank of Uganda at Imperial Royal hotel yesterday. Some suppliers in response said current policies have driven some suppliers out of business thus may have forced them to “forge documents”.
For example, for a supplier bidding to supply printing papers to a government entity, PPDA requires them to provide a certificate from the manufacturers.
This, some suppliers say, is difficult to get because the suppliers can as well take over the process and supply the materials or equipment’s themselves.
According to the PPDA mandate under the law, it may suspend a provider from engaging in any procurement and disposal process on grounds which include among others; breach of the code of ethics, after an investigation by the auditor general, upon conviction of provider of corrupt practices, suspension of a provider by a professional body of conduct among others.
Another challenge raised by a several suppliers relates to the local content policy under PPDA Act. Since the discovery of oil, government fast tracked a local content policy with a major aim of ring fencing opportunities for local manufacturers and companies to benefit in terms of supplying materials.
However, the gaps cited within the policy have now made it difficult for suppliers to successfully win bids in some government departments according to suppliers. As a result of the local content policy, some companies are being forced to review their allotment of shareholding in order to receive business.
“Between March and now, many companies have raised issued on the local content policy. The definition [of a local supplier] is being revised currently in the local content guidelines,” Tumuhairwe said in response to aggrieved suppliers.
In May this year, PPDA issued a set of guidelines aimed at providing mechanisms of increasing the input of local labour goods and services in the procurement of public sector projects, goods and services within the country. Their intervention through the local content policy were aligned to the Buy Uganda Build Uganda policy (BUBU).
The Ugandan local content policy does not state whether a company should be a wholly owned “Ugandan company” or simply a registered company in Uganda, regardless of its ownership and control. This has left suppliers guessing on what the policy demands for.
Additionally, the BUBU policy is premised on the PPDA clause which talks about preference of 23 per cent which is built into local content.
According to BOU governor, Emmanuel Tumusiime Mutebile, the BUBU policy gives preferential treatment to Ugandan local producers, something he feels is against East African Community customs protocol which encourages easy trade facilitations among member states.