Fresh vetting to weed out rogue procurement officers

Kenya Institute of Supplies Management chairman Chris Oanda. PHOTO | FILE

All procurement professionals will be required to immediately apply for fresh practising licences under a new law meant to rein in rogue supply chain officers and eliminate quacks.

The newly-enacted Public Procurement and Asset Disposal Act (2015), which took effect in January, demands that all persons working in supply chain management to be vetted afresh to ascertain their academic and ethical suitability.

The Kenya Institute of Supplies Management (KISM) is designated as the professional body to register and regulate those in the practice of procurement in Kenya.

“There should not be any procurement and supply chain officer in public or private practice in Kenya today who is not registered with the institute,” said Chris Oanda, chairman at KISM.

“If there is any such officer, then both the officer and the employing organisation are in breach of the law and are liable to sanction,” he said.

Mr Oanda said that even the 3,000 procurement professionals who were previously registered with the institute will have to undergo fresh vetting before being issued with a practicing licence.

The professional body is banking on the new statute to redeem the image of procurement officials – who are emerging as the face of corruption in Kenya replete with tendering scandals.

Those found practising as supply chain officers without licences, as well as their employers, will be liable to a fine of Sh100,000 and a jail term of two years.

Employers who engage unregistered or quacks as procurement professionals will be hit with a Sh0.5 million fine and a three year prison term if found guilty. 

The KISM said it is currently setting up a disciplinary committee that will handle cases of professional misconduct among supply chain experts.

Regulated trades

“We shall therefore begin to enforce the disciplinary provisions of the Act very shortly and will root out any rogue professionals without fear or favour,” said Mr Oanda.

Supply chain officers who in any way attempt to influence a tendering process will be hit with a Sh1 million penalty and 10-year jail term; and if it is a corporate entity a fine of Sh10 million.

Procurement specialists have now been elevated to join the league of regulated trades such as engineering, pharmacy, medicine, public health, nursing, law, architecture and quantity surveying.

A study by Public Procurement Oversight Authority - now renamed Public Procurement Regulatory Authority -  shows that Kenya’s State agencies buy goods at an average of 60 per cent above the prevailing market price – making it an avenue for corruption.

Unexplained delays, favouritism, exaggerated price projections, splitting of contracts for similar goods and works, are some of the most common indicators of graft in procurement, according to the regulator.

Tendering fraud has overtaken bribery and corruption to be ranked Kenya’s fastest growing form of economic crime, a survey by PricewaterhouseCoopers shows.

President Uhuru Kenyatta’s government is battling multiple tender headwinds as fat cats battle for a piece Kenya’s big ticket contracts in education, railway, road, ports and real estate.