Ghana: Improving Efficiency And Transparency In Public Procurement

Ghana, has since the 1970’s shown significant commitment to the global call for sustainable development and environmental issues by being a signatory to many international conventions. At the UN World summit on sustainable development in Johannesburg in 2002, all governments were called upon to shift from unsustainable patterns of consumption and production to Sustainable Consumption and Production (SCP). In order to accelerate this shift, governments were urged to promote the development of a 10-Year Framework of Programmes (10-YFP) on SCP, programme that gave birth to the Marrakech Process.

The Marrakech Process established seven task forces with a focus on specific SCP issues, as part of the strategy to implement the 10-YFP. One of these task forces was the Marrakech Sustainable Public Procurement (MTF-SPP) of which Ghana was a member. Others established were: Cooperation with Africa, Sustainable Products, Sustainable Lifestyles, Sustainable Tourism, Sustainable Buildings & Construction, and Education for Sustainable Consumption. The MTF on SPP completed its mandate of developing the SPP Toolkit and propagating its functions to the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) in 2010.

 

PUBLIC FUNDS
Sustainable Public Procurement (SPP) is about spending public funds on products/services/projects that achieve value for money on a whole life basis in terms of generating benefits not only for an organization but also to society and the economy, while minimising damage to the environment to ensure sustainable development. It seeks to address the environmental, social and economic consequences of procurement actions from design, through manufacturing, to use, and final disposal of products and services.

This concept has become necessary because countries such as Ghana and other African countries are faced with worsening climatic conditions, poverty, deforestation and other environmental degradations which are mainly the result of inappropriate production and consumption practices. Thus, it behoves on governments to demonstrate their commitment to considering and minimising the environmental consequences of their procurement activities and uphold high standards of environmental stewardship.

Furthermore, available data indicates that up to 60 per cent of a manufacturing company’s carbon footprint and about 80 per cent of retailers’ are found along their supply chains and therefore hold the greatest potential to make a difference. In response to these alarming statistics, Ghana has a great deal of responsibility to begin to entrench the principles of SPP in its procurement activities. This is because on the average, public procurement expenditure represents about 17 per cent of the GDP and therefore has a high stake in promoting this new approach.

SPP posits that buyers are not mere consumers but have a lot of control over what is manufactured, and how it is manufactured, and therefore it will be prudent on the part of procuring entities in the country to be conscious of this. Institutional buyers should note that each time they procure from companies, they are “electing” or “voting” for such companies to continue operating the way they are. So if such companies do not adhere to good and sustainable practices such as paying fair wages, maintaining clean environment and reducing green house emissions through their operations, procuring from them would mean that they are being encouraged to continue operating in such manner.The benefits of SPP include a reduction of negative environmental impacts, improved social responsibility, and more efficient use of resources and funds, among others. SPP can drive social and economic policies, and reduce corruption through ethical behaviour.

 

PURCHASING POWER
Given these advantages of SPP, Ghana must use its purchasing power to support companies that produce sustainable products eg.: recycled paper, renewable energy products etc. as they promote the sustainability agenda.

Some of the areas through which this agenda can be sustained include:

* The enactment of an SPP policy document backed by legal instruments enforceable at the national or municipal levels;

* Exercising strong political will and leadership to drive the implementation process;

* Encouraging institutional buyers to redirect their focus from mainly upfront costs and profit maximisation to include consideration of sustainability issues to enhance social equity, economic advancement and environmental safeguards;

* Training of compliance Inspectors for certification of sustainable products/processes; and companies must be encouraged to evaluate the impact of their operations on the environment by measuring their carbon footprints–the amount of greenhouse gas emissions generated.

To date, Ghana through the PPA has championed the cause of SPP as one of its major policy initiatives designed to consolidate the gains of the country’s public procurement reforms. Various awareness and advocacy programmes have been embarked upon to inform civil society, the private sector and government entities of this new concept.

Expectations are that all stakeholders will warm-up to this new wave and cooperate with government to roll-out its implementation in the near future. To this end, the Public Procurement Authority is launching an intensive training programme in the month of July, 2014 for both the private and public sectors. Interested institutions can register on the PPA’s website: www.ppaghana.org to attend any of these seminars or call it’s Tollfree Lines: 0800 10070.

For further information, please contact the PPA via email: info@ppaghana.org

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