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AN ASSESSMENT OF THE LEVEL OF POLITICAL INTERFERENCE IN THE IMPLEMENTATION OF PUBLIC PROCUREMENT IN PUBLIC INSTITUTIONS

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AN ASSESSMENT OF THE LEVEL OF POLITICAL INTERFERENCE IN THE IMPLEMENTATION OF PUBLIC PROCUREMENT IN PUBLIC INSTITUTIONS

 

CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

1.0  INTRODUCTION

This chapter gives a general view of the whole thesis and for that matter provides the background to the study, a statement of the problem, objectives, scope and significance of the study as well as the provides the research questions and the organisation of the study.

1.1 BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY

This study is embarked on the topic, “an assessment of the level of political interference in the implementation of public procurement in public institutions: the case of New Juaben North and South Municipal Assemblies.” Public purchases across the globe are imperative component in service delivery and functioning of various departments of government institutions. It is therefore of essence for governments to ensure that goods, works and services are provided efficiently to the public (Peterson and Flanagan, 2009).

Public procurement procedures are critical for this to be achieved.  All goods and services for public use should be guided by the Public procurement requirement (Roodhooft and Abbeele, 2006). The  public  sector  comprises  of  government  departments  and  public institutions or the Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs).  These  entities  supply  goods, works  and  services  to  the  public and  are  supplied  through  public  procurement  (Peterson  and Flanagan, 2009).

The  Public  Procurement  Law,  2003 (Act  663) which has been amended in 2016 as Act  914 is  a  comprehensive  legislation  designed  to  eliminate  the  shortcomings  and  organizational  weaknesses  which  were  inherent  in  public  procurement  in  Ghana. The government  of  Ghana,  in  consultation  with  its  development  partners had identified the public procurement system as an area that required urgent attention in view of the widespread perception of corrupt practices and inefficiencies so as to build trust in the procurement system. The World Bank reported that about 50-70% of Ghana’s national budget (after personal emoluments) was procurement related which therefore called for efficient public  procurement  system  to achieve  value  for  money  in  government  expenditures.

Thus, to maintain sanity and attain value for money in public procurement, the government of Ghana in 1996 launched the Public Financial Management Reform Programme (PUFMARP) with the purpose of improving financial management in Ghana. PUFMARP eventually identified some weaknesses in the procurement system which included: lack of a comprehensive  public  procurement  policy,  lack  of  a central  body  with  technical  expertise, absence  of  clearly  defined  roles  and  responsibilities  for  procurement  entities,  absence  of  comprehensive legal regime to safeguard public procurement, lack of rules and regulations to guide, direct, train and monitor public procurement. The programme also identified that there was no independent appeals process to address complaints from tenderers. Consequently, the shortfalls identified led to  the  establishment  of  the Public  Procurement  Oversight  Group  in  1999, assigned to  steer  the  design  of  a  comprehensive  public  procurement  reform  programme  which later led to the drafting of a public procurement bill in September 2002 and was eventually passed into law on 31 December 2003 and it became the Public Procurement Act 2003 (Act 663).

Public  procurement  is basically  the  process  whereby  public  sector establishments, ministries,  departments and  local authorities  acquire goods, works  and  services. The important function  of  public  procurement has compelled most countries across the world, Ghana included, to promulgate laws and regulatory frameworks to streamline their public procurement activities.

However, many researches have proven that implementation of the public procurement laws and policies in many countries like Ghana have been bedevilled with some numerous challenges or hindrances. For instance, The  National  Public  Procurement  Authority  of  Sierra  Leone  in  its  2005  report  outlined  several  challenges  bedevilling  the  operations  of  the  Authority.  Some of them   included: inadequate funding, deficient staff strength and organisational and  logistical limitations. The  report  recommended  among  other  things,  that  the law could achieve its objective if there was a concerted effort by all stakeholders, backed by very  firm  political will and adequate  budgetary  support,  to  streamline  and  improve  public procurement procedures in Sierra Leone.

A  number  of  authors  have  investigated  the  factors  that  militate  against  public procurement implementation  around  the  globe  (Thai, 2004; Wittig & Jeng, 2004; etc.). However, these  previous  studies  have  not  reported  on  obstacles  to  the  public procurement implementation  in  Ghana. 

By the year 2016, Ghanaian politicians showcased a strong political will in ensuring that lapses realised in the implementation of the PPA 663 were corrected and eventually, that year, Parliament passed the PP Amendment bill and it became the Amendment Act 914. Almost three years after the Act 914 came into existence, it is important to find out if there exist corruption among other weaknesses in procurement performance in the country. There is therefore the need to undertake a rigorous analysis of one of the key factors that has hindered the law in Ghana from achieving the purpose for which it was enacted.

1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM

The  public  procurement  system  in  Ghana is  to  ensure  that  in  a  harmonized  procedure, all goods and services purchased by public institutions are done in a way that ensures a careful,  economic  and  efficient  use  of  public  resources.    It  is  also  to  ensure  that transactions are devoid of corruption, but are done in fairly, plainly and in an impartial way, whereas encouraging competition among local industries.

There  are  important  economic  and  political  implications  related  to Public procurement hence, the need to make sure that the process is efficient and economical. Political  interference  with  the  procurement  process  poses  a challenge  to  the  implementation  process  and  public  procurement  reforms.  A  good  number  of  politicians  think  that  they  have  the   right   to  intervene   in   the   procurement   procedures   thereby   leading   to   capricious   procurement decisions (World Bank, 2012).

All key players in the public procurement process are required to understand the tenets of the procurement processes to ensure that it works efficiently.  In a lot of government organizations howbeit, the public  procurement process  is  sheltered  with concealment, incompetence and bribery (Nyakundi et al., 2012). Previous studies have only concentrated on factors affecting procurement performance in public  sector  in Ghana but did not focus on political interference as a challenge.

This has inspired the researchers to carry out this study and also to fill the vacuum created and add to literature to the body of knowledge. This work seeks to investigate political interference as a factor that affects performance of the public procurement process in Ghana’s public sector.

1.3 OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY

The main objective of this research is to assess the level of political interference in the implementation of public procurement in public institutions in Ghana. In other words, it seeks to assess the  extent  to  which  politicians  have  interfered  with  public procurement processes in Ghana.

1.3.1 SPECIFIC OBJECTIVES

1.      To assess the level of political interference in the implementation of Public Procurement process.

2.      To identify other factors affecting public procurement implementation in public institutions.

3.      To suggest some possible remedies to preventing political interference in public procurement implementation in public institutions.

1.4 RESEARCH QUESTIONS

1.      Is there political interference in the implementation of the public procurement process in the public institutions?

2.      Are there other factors affecting procurement implementation in public institutions?

3.      What solutions are there to curb political interference in the implementation of the public procurement process?

1.6 SCOPE OF THE STUDY

The  research used the New Juaben South and New Juaben North Municipal Assemblies as case studies for this study. The two municipal assemblies were chosen because they have the autonomy to procure goods, works and services. Most  studies  on  public  procurement  law implementation have  been conducted largely on factors affecting its implementation without focus on political interference. This research was  conducted  with focus on political interference by politicians in the implementation of the public procurement Act and it elicited responses from public procurement practitioners and other line mangers/administrators working in the two Municipal Assemblies.

1.7 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY

This study contributes  to  procurement  activities  and  strengthens the act  of  obtaining goods, works  and  services  in  the public institutions in Ghana  and  also promotes transparency  and accountability which are important components in the procurement practices. The study again contributes to the body of knowledge and offers some suggested remedies to reduce or eliminate political interference in public procurement implementation process in public institutions in Ghana.

1.8 ORGANIZATION OF THE STUDY

There are five chapters in this thesis.The first chapter introduces the study. It defines the problem statement, outlines the research objectives andthe research questions as well as the significance of the study. The second chapter discusses the applicable literature on political interference in procurement in Ghana’s public sector, Africa and the world as a whole. Chapter three looks at the study design and methods used togather the data.This third chapter includes a description of the study area, study participants, data collection guides and data analysis methodology. The fourth chapter dwells on the study results and discussions. Chapter five concludes the research by summarising the findings and offering recommendations for further studies.

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