By Khulile Thwala
The Eswatini Public Procurement Regulatory Agency (ESPPRA) has trained procurement personnel from the government and state-owned entities, capacitating them on the newly-developed standard bidding documents, to ensure a harmonised bidding process in the country.
Senior Investigations Officer under the Audit and Compliance Department at ESPPRA Veli Ngwenya said a gap was identified that the procurement process at the bidding stage in the kingdom is not entirely harmonised.
“The documents used in the procurement process, in particular the bidding stage, as there are different levels to the process, are not harmonised. Therefore, a new bidding document was developed which conforms to not only the stipulated requirements locally but also internationally,” he said.
Ngwenya said ESPPRA was mandated by the Eswatini Public Procurement Act No.7 of 2011 to develop a standard bidding document. He said there were 91 public entities that ESPPRA regulates and it was common for them to use different bidding documents, hence the reason behind developing new documents which conform to the required standards.
“Although the public entities were using different bidding documents, we verified and checked them to ensure that they conform to the standard bidding requirement,” he said.
Detailing why the harmonisation of bidding documents was necessary, Ngwenya said it enhances transparency and certainty.
“This is because you find that there is a bidding document in which the evaluation criteria are not clearly articulated which becomes a challenge to the bidder, who must know before bidding what methodology will be followed or applied in terms of evaluating the bid and eventually coming up to the best-evaluated tender.”
“The expected outcome of the training is that procuring entities embrace the change of using one standard bidding document and acquaint themselves with populating the information that comes from their end, for instance, the specification for a particular procurement that has to be populated by the entity. They will further understand why these documents are necessary and important to them as well as not miss out on evaluation criteria and methodologies.”
ESPPRA, along with the Ministry of Finance is facilitating the training. They have also partnered with the Government of Japan and the African Development Bank (AfDB).
Ngwenya further mentioned that the standard documents were divided into those for services, works, and goods and the difference segmented the procurement into categories, while there were different documents for each.
Meanwhile, Ngwenya says it is important for ESPPRA to ensure its visibility because they are working with the public indirectly through working with public services, as these public services worked directly with the public.