NAIROBI, Nov. 28 (Xinhua) -- Kenya on Wednesday urged East African Community (EAC) member states to deploy information technology (IT)-enabled procurement systems in order to curb corruption.
Henry Rotich, cabinet secretary for the National Treasury and Planning, told a regional finance forum in Nairobi that corruption must be eliminated in order to restore public confidence and ensure fair competition.
"Adoption of e-procurement will go a long way in strengthening public procurement systems within the region, with a view to curbing corruption," said Rotich when he officially opened the East African Procurement conference in Nairobi.
"Moreover, the EAC member states are signatories to the UN Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC) in which one of the resolutions is for the countries to implement measures aimed at combating corruption, particularly in public procurement," he added.
The three-day forum is discussing key issues affecting the transformation and modernization of the public procurement systems; forging a common front among EAC member states on the value of public procurement for the promotion of good governance; professionalization of procurement practice through legal mechanisms; and sustaining public procurement reforms in the national procurement systems.
Rotich said that public procurement is a major economic activity which generates significant financial flows in the economy.
"As a consequence, public procurement has become one of the most vulnerable areas to corruption, fraud and bribery," he added.
The Kenyan official noted that a good procurement system is vital to effective public expenditure management and to the delivery of services to citizens on time, at the most reasonable cost, and with the best quality.
He observed that sound public procurement policies and practices are among the essential elements of good governance.
According to Rotich, current best practice in public procurement adopts the operating principles of value for money, transparency and accountability, in an environment using an integrated financial management information system that incorporates the principles of output management.
"The success of the procurement system depends on a clear articulation and understanding of what the legal and regulatory framework seeks to achieve. We must also continue to invest in the capacity of public sector systems, workers and management to ensure our public services are efficient, effective and professional," Rotich said.
Maurice Juma, director-general of the Public Procurement Regulatory Authority, said that African countries are slowly moving toward e-procurement, with Rwanda being the first one to do so, and many having migrated to the Integrated Financial Management Information System.
"For us to improve public procurement, we will need to strengthen the capacity of the agencies involved and deploy robust information communication technology (ICT) systems to seal all the loopholes that might provide fertile breeding grounds for corruption," Juma added.