Talking Drums

The West African News Magazine

Procurement services for central government

The Silver Jubilee of the Ghana Supply Commission has been marked in Accra. Our Correspondent throws some light on this state institution with the responsibility of procurement services to central government.
Delivering the keynote address to mark the Silver Jubilee of the Ghana Supply Commission in Accra at the end of July, the Secretary for Finance and Economic Planning, Dr Kwesi Botchwey, vowed that he was going to get tough with corrupt practices that had permeated the import-export business in Ghana especially within the public sector. He said: "we in government are very determined to clear up roguery in the import-export trade, no matter whose ox or cow is gored. The purge to flush out corrupt practices will continue."

If by that the Secretary was referring to the recent execution of people alleged to have stolen fantastic amounts of money from banks, then it is an important indication that the spate of executions have not been curtailed and that government silence on the matter is only a deception. Dr Botchway stressed that "we shall set Institution out to improve managerial and produc- tion capabilities of state agencies so that they do not become a drain on public funds." By that he was no doubt referring to the Ghana Supply Commission (GSC) which has become notorious for corruption in the issue of tenders for procurement of equipment and machinery within state enterprises and falsification of procurement orders.

The GSC was established in 1960 to take over full responsibility for central government purchasing. It has a duty to procure the supplies for all Ministries, Departments, Corporations, Local Authorities and Educational Institutions. The GSC has responsibility for the standardisation of all such supplies imported from abroad to ensure that they conform to required international standards of quality and capability especially in the case of machinery and equipment.

The GSC also acts as a clearing agent for all government cargoes that land at the ports. The purchase of shoddy goods and discarded stuff from abroad from the harbour constitute few of the many criticisms that are often levelled against the Commission.

A national weekly expressed "concern over the slow deliveries of supplies ordered by the GSC and notes that the commission's London office which has a duty to check price comparison and handle orders for emergency supplies as is in the case of drugs and defence equipment, is steeped up in bureaucracy and red-tapeism."

On the occasion of this Silver Jubilee, the Public Relations Officer of the GSC, in a press statement, outlined the problem and achievements in 25 years. The failure of some government departments to utilise the services of the Commission and by-passing it in the course of procurement services, the delays in obtaining financial guaran- tees from the Accountant General's department to cover indents raised by departments and institutions and to meet expenses on payment of custom duties and port clearing charges were mentioned.

Institution Supplies procured by GSC

Ghana Airways Aeroplanes, DC-9 aircraft

Ghana Railways Diesel electric locomotives

Ministry of Roads and Highways Prefabricated Bailey Bridges

Ghana Water and Sewerage Corporation Pumps and chemicals

Ghana Broadcasting Corporation Transmitters, various equipment and spares, films etc

Ghana Electricity Corporation Transformers, electric meters

Ministry of Health Drugs, hospital equipment

Post & Telecommunication Corporation Postage stamps, cables, telex machines etc.

The Public Relations Officer reiterated the invaluable role that the GSC is playing in the economic recovery programme. He said: "purchasing constitutes an immensely important aspect of every nation's economic activity. The cost of general supplies and services amounts to about 55% of the National Budget. Therefore, to be able to control the Budget effectively, organisations who are responsible for central procurement of stores and supplies need to be guided in the persuance of national policy on procurement procedures to guarantee maximum protection of public funds." The Table below gives a quick indication of some of the services that the GSC has rendered to the public institutions.

On the occasion of its Silver Jubilee celebration, it is hoped that the com- mission will endeavour to improve its staff with people of probity and honesty, people who have technical, managerial and commercial expertise and experience since modern methods of purchasing involve fast-changing computer technologies.

It must of necessity convince the government to set up a haulage and trucking section to deal with trans- portation of cargo from the ports to the institutions that need them. Not only should the GSC act as "middle- man" officially sanctioned to buy for government, it must seek, through search for goods and better pricing arrangements, to reduce the nation's expenditure on procurement.

Call for Africa Day of Peace

OAU foreign ministers and experts from various international institutions have taken part in a four-day conference on security, disarmament and development. The deliberations of this UN-sponsored conference were marked by the adoption of a declaration on peace, security and disarmament in Africa; a programme of action for peace, and a special statement condemning apartheid.

The statement indicated that the apartheid system of its very nature - cannot be reformed and appealed to Governments and notably to Washington, to end all co-operation with Pretoria. It Amegah, also condemned the close collaboration between Israel and South Africa, notably the nuclear field.

The programme of action called on the OAU to work out the necessary measures in favour of disarmament in Africa and suggested the setting up of a regional centre for peace and disarmament. Lastly, it advocated that August 17, the day of issuance of the Lome statement, be declared by the next OAU summit to the Africa day of peace and disarmament. In his closing statement, the chairman of the conference, Togo's Minister of Foreign Affairs and Co-operation, Mr Koffi Atson said that the adoption of the final statement was a step towards peace.

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