By Phiwa Sikhondze
The Ministry of Finance in collaboration with the Eswatini Public Procurement Regulatory Agency (ESPPRA) and the Eswatini Economic Policy Analysis and Research Centre (ESEPARC), officially launched the Market Price Reference Catalogue for Common Use Items yesterday at the Sibane Sami Hotel in Ezulwini.
The catalogue is a transparency tool that aims to address the issue of overpricing in public procurement and ensure value for money for the government.
The Minister of Finance, Neal Rijkenberg said that the public procurement system drives the country’s economy and that the government must maximize every cent of its budget. He noted that the current procurement spending is too high, unsustainable and threatens the country’s economic growth and stability, hence the need for reforms to the expenditure on procurement.
“We are all aware of the challenges in managing our procurement spend, which currently stands at a staggering 22.6% of our country’s expenditure. With procurement reforms at the forefront of our agenda, it is imperative, that we address the existing issue of overpricing, be it for common-use items or any sector of the government services, which does not only deplete government funds but further hampers economic growth and sustainability,” the Minister said.
He said that by publishing the catalogue, the government hopes to bring about a shift that results in fair market prices being offered to the government. He said that this will not only reduce the procurement spend but also stimulate economic growth and create opportunities for investment and development.
Rijkenberg added that the launch of the catalogue signifies a new era of transparency and accountability in procurement and that Eswatini is committed to upholding the highest standards of accountability, transparency and integrity.
The Minister urged the leaders of the different procuring entities to embrace the catalogue, ensure that their organizations adhere to fair pricing and value for money and actively participate in the collective effort to create a more efficient and effective procurement system.
He also expressed his gratitude to the team that developed the catalogue; the Ministry of Finance, ESPPRA and ESEPARC along with the suppliers who provided their information for the cause.
The Minister was echoed by the ESPPRA CEO, Vusumutiwendvodza Matsebula, who explained the need for the catalogue in the country’s procurement system. Matsebula said that this reform in the procurement sector will play a huge role in advancing fair, accountable and transparent public procurement. He, therefore, implored stakeholders in procurement entities to apply themselves and adopt this system for the betterment of public procurement.
The Market Price Reference Catalogue for Common Use Items is a document that provides indicative prices for common goods and services procured by the government. It covers items such as stationery, office equipment, furniture, cleaning materials, fuel, tyres, batteries, vehicles, computers, printers, toners, software, hardware, Internet services, catering services, accommodation services, travel services, training services, consultancy services, and construction materials. The catalogue is based on market research and analysis and will be updated periodically to reflect the changes in the market.
The catalogue is expected to enhance transparency, accountability, efficiency, and value for money in public procurement. It will also promote fair competition, incentivize suppliers to offer competitive prices, and reduce the risk of corruption and fraud. The catalogue will be accessible to all stakeholders, including procuring entities, suppliers, oversight bodies, and the public through the ESPPRA website and other platforms.