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Sierra Leone News: Air travel, vehicle fleets now subject to e-procurement processes

Since President Bio’s Executive Order 2 came into effect in April 2018, the government has saved Le2.02 billion in overseas airline tickets, according to the Minister of Finance, Jacob Jusu Saffa, in his budget speech on Friday 2 November 2018. Moving forward, Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) and State-Owned Enterprises (SOEs) will be required to purchase air tickets through a competitive process, the details of which will be announced in Quarter 1, 2019. According to the Minister, the procurement of air tickets at inflated prices for Government officers on official travel is a significant source of leakage of Government funds. With significant variations in prices of air tickets have been discovered on many occasions for the same travel route depending on the travel agency from which the tickets are procured. “In some instances, the same travel agency issues tickets at varying prices to the same set of officers traveling to the same destination on the same aircraft and funded from the same Government account” said Minister Saffa. Procurement documents in respect of payments for air tickets has been an outstanding issue for MDAs in annual audit reports by the Auditor General, wherein documents detailing payments to travelling agencies and three pro-forma invoices attached to the payment vouchers were not presented for audit inspection. As a way of reforming public procurement processes of goods, services and work by MDAs, which accounts for a significant proportion of Government spending, in some cases, the procurement methods used do not assure value for money as low quality goods, services and works, which are often over-priced are also not delivered on time. Furthermore, to ensure transparency in the procurement process, Government will introduce an electronic procurement (e-procurement) process in 2019, which will facilitate the procurement of goods, services and works will be done through electronic means rather than the current manual procurement processes. The current threshold amounts, which determine the choice of procurement method, contained in the First Schedule to the Public Procurement Act 2016 were stipulated in 2004. It is clear that since then, the Leone has depreciated against major international currencies rendering the thresholds redundant, so therefore the new thresholds prescribed in the 2019 Finance Act will reflect current prices. Moreover, the procurement and maintenance of official vehicles is also another area of concern in public expenditure management. A huge amount of public resources is spent on the purchase, repairs, and maintenance of vehicles and fuel consumption. The development of the Fleet Management Policy is aimed at addressing these issues, which is currently at an advanced stage. In line with the Presidential Address to this House in May this year, Government through the Ministry of Transport and Civil Aviation in collaboration with the Ministry of Finance will submit to Cabinet a Fleet Management Policy in the first quarter of 2019. A vehicle pool and tracking system will also be introduced with a view to reducing public expenditure on the purchase of Government vehicles, fuel consumption, repairs and maintenance.

ZJ/5/11/18

By Zainab Iyamide Joaque

Tuesday November 06, 2018.

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