Mr Joseph Osei-Owusu, the First Deputy Speaker, has encouraged Members of Parliament (MPs) to show keen interest in public procurement processes at the local level, to enhance legislative oversight.
MPs, he said, were required to sit on the Entity Tender Committees (ETC) of the Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs) to guide them on the law.
He was speaking at the opening of a two-day workshop for the leadership of parliament and selected parliamentary committees in Koforidua.
The programme was organized by the Ministry of Public Procurement and focused on parliament’s role in ensuring the protection of the public purse.
“Enhancing Parliamentary oversight through public procurement”, was the theme chosen for the workshop.
Mr. Osei-Owusu reminded the MPs to make sure that they performed roles assigned them by law more effectively and said their role should not be limited just to what was brought to them in the House.
He identified the biggest challenge facing the country’s public procurement practices as the issue of dishonesty - the lack the integrity. “As a people we should be bold and admit that we are dishonest, we do not like following rules.”
He said it was time everybody recognized that things had changed and that people would be required to be more open and accountable to the public.
“Particularly, for those of us in the public sector, we must understand that the days we shared information we wanted the public to know is over.
“People would find the information wherever it is, they would give the interpretation that they want” he added.
Ms. Sarah Adwoa Sarfo, Minister of State for Public Procurement, said the goal was to build the capacity of parliament to enable it to use its oversight role to fight corrupt in the public procurement arena.
The chunk of government resources - about 50 to 70 per cent of government expenditure, goes into public procurement.
The workshop, she noted, had come at an opportune time to strengthen the oversight functions of parliament, to oversee the work of the executive, peruse loan agreements and ensure efficient public procurement.
She underlined the importance of the Entity Tender Committees, saying, these were meant to make sure that the procurement laws were followed, to prevent corruption, collusion and fraud.
The Minister called for collaboration between her Ministry, the Attorney General’s Department and the Office of the Special Prosecutor (OSP) to ensure that recommendations from the Public Accounts Committee, Auditor General’s Report and findings against people who were in clear breach of the law were punished.
Mr. Haruna Iddrisu, the Minority Leader, made reference to a World Bank report, he said, showed that the passage of the Public Procurement Act 2003 (Act 663) had not significantly contributed to reducing corruption in Ghana.
He said there was therefore the need for more to be done in terms of reforms, adding that, parliament had a responsibility to the exercise its oversight to help safeguard the public purse.