16 Oct, 2023
Jail time and or fine await public officials who will procure outside NeST
By: Joseph Muhozi, Dar es Salaam
The Public Procurement Bill 2023 which was passed by Parliament recently, sets severe penalties including jail time and fine, for public officials who will conduct any public procurement process outside the National e-Procurement System of Tanzania (NeST), TPJ can report.
The Chief Executive Officer of the Public Procurement Regulatory Authority, Eliakim Maswi, told the Tanzania Editors Forum (TEF) and the press, that the penalties are meant to push towards acceptance of using the electronic system, which has shown great promise in enhancing transparency, accountability and attainment of value for money in public procurement, which accounts for more than 70% of the government's budget.
Maswi emphasized the transformative potential of NeST in reshaping how the government manages public funds and underscored the longstanding issue of embezzlement in public procurement by unscrupulous officials, “who exploited manual operations by engaging in various malpractices, including collusion and corruption with impunity.”
“The introduction of NeST promises to curtail these malpractices,” he said, adding that it is not farfetched to imagine unfaithful officers trying their best to avoid using the system because they know they will be caught easily.
According to Maswi, the passed bill mandates the use of electronic systems in all procurement dealings with no provision for offline procurement and public officers who fail to comply face imprisonment for up to three years, a fine of up to 10 million Tanzanian Shillings, or both.
“There is no option which allows the use of offline procurement …the bill instructs that PPRA will issue a public notice with directives in case the system is not working,” he said.
Maswi urged the media to play a pivotal role in educating the public about the benefits of NeST and to highlight the fact that a Government directive says that from October 1, 2023, all procurement processes in Tanzania Mainland will be conducted through NeST only, and that no entity will be allowed to procure outside the system.
Meanwhile, Chairperson of TEF, Deodatus Balile, commended the system's potential to deter malpractices such as forgery of certificates of incorporation and in exposing companies that use multiple Taxpayer Identification Numbers (TIN) to evade tax obligations.
The public procurement bill, which was passed by Parliament in early September 2023, also raised the threshold for national preference from 10 million to 50 million Tanzanian Shillings, for works.