Chances of tender-preneurs to connive with government officials to secure contracts are shrinking, thanks to a new system that prohibits submitting bids physically.
A portal known as “Umucyo” or transparency (www.umucyo.gov.rw) has been created for every bidder to submit their documents without any human contact.
The Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Justice, Isabelle Kalihangabo, told journalists on Monday morning the system avoids any dealings between entrepreneurs and public servants.
The $8 million (about Rwf6 billion) system was build by South Korea after the government of Rwanda in September 2015 signed a memorandum of understanding with the Public Procurement Service of South Korea under which both sides will collaborate in training and capacity building to ensure the system is efficient.
“It prevents the possibility of providing tender details to someone who does not meet the requirements,” she said shortly after a workshop organized by the ministry for lawyers and procurement officers from public institutions.
If for example, she said, one sends a document to the ministry of justice, and it does not meet the requirement, it is rejected. “So a Mayor, a Permanent Secretary or a Director General cannot sign it because they cannot even see it. “It disappears,” Kalihangabo told Taarifa.
She said that more training would be conducted to sensitise people on how this system works. “ If possible we will offer additional trainings, in collaboration with RPPA (Rwanda Procurement Public Authority), but this system must be applied,” she added.
About eight public institutions have already adopted the system (E-procurement) in its pilot phase. Rwanda Biomedical Center (RBC) is one of the institutions.
Jean Pierre Nzasabimana is RBC’s Legal Officer. He told Taarifa what it was like to use the manual process. “The ordinary process of procurement used to take long. Now that we are in the system, it is faster and improves our relation with entrepreneurs.”
He went on to say that the system provides a good opportunity for transparency. Previously, he said, entrepreneur would meet with staff in the procurement department and negotiate. This allowed fraudulent dealings.
“We cannot say that everyone would do this [fraud], but even to those few who did it, now measures have been taken so that it does not happen again.”
Fred Bazatsinda is an E-procurement specialist. He warned entrepreneurs of what will follow of the new system. Previously, entrepreneurs offered substandard services and products. “They are now going to face problems and we cannot offer any kind of help for those who will not submit their bids properly,” he said.
Effective July1, 2017, no procurement plan will be seen in books, no tender will be seen in a newspaper.
Joseph Rwibasira is a Corporate Services Officer with the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning. He explains how E-procurement has helped the institution.
“This system has helped us in different things, but most importantly, it is doing its best to provide more security,” he said. He gave an example. “If it was to apply for a given job, it was possible to submit a document on someone else’s behalf, but thanks to this system, that is not possible.”
Another remedy the system has brought is meeting deadlines. “Nothing can be done to submit your documents beyond the deadline.
First, the system receives documents and classifies them. Then it identifies where the document came from and the date they were submitted. All the data is stored online.
Meanwhile, there is no cost whatsoever, for both the government and the bidder. All infoamtion regarding the requirements is found online.
However, before July 1, all procurements can still be announced through the media and conducted as it was before.
The development comes weeks after the Auditor General, Obadiah Biraro, presented his 2015/16 annual report to senators and deputies.
According to Biraro’s report, nearly Rwf7 billion could not be accounted for. It was spent without supporting documents and Rwf7.4 billion had partial supporting documents.
The audit covered 139 entities, including ministries, government business enterprises, projects, academic institutions, and districts, among others.
Biraro told parliament that accountability standards had improved, but called for major improvements especially in government business enterprises and boards.
About Umucyo E-procurement
The E-procurement system automates the public procurement process and enables the interactions of government to business services. By using the online system, the government purchases goods, works, services and non-consultancy services to help the government ensure efficiency of public procurement.
Umucyo is a single channel or portal and point of access for Rwanda procuring entities allowing to negotiate better contract terms and to realise savings and achieve value for money.
It provides suppliers with increased access to markets without additional marketing efforts and a faster, more efficient way of quoting. It also boosts the accuracy through receiving electronic orders.