The Consumer Federation of Kenya (Cofek) is challenging a strange decision by the government to centralize procurement of all Information Communication Technology (ICT) provisions for all ministries and state parastatals through the Ministry of ICT.
According to Cofek, the outer look on the proposal makes sense on volume of scale purchase, but the reality of the move will lead to major financial scandal under the Jubilee government.
“On the face of it, the decision seems to make a lot of sense especially on volume of scale. In reality, it would become the citadel of corruption much worse than we are witnessing at NYS,” stated the circular sent to media houses.
The National Youth Service scandals, labelled NYS 1 and 2, that led to taxpayers losing approximately Sh10 billion came to light after the Youth ministry controlled all the purchases of goods and services of NYS from its ministry’s headquatres.
Cofek is challenging the centralization of ICT procurements on the grounds that the law setting up various agencies and departments in the Government does not visualize an arrangement where one ministry would have procurement power over others.
It is only the National Treasury that has the mandate given by the law to have all the power in controlling procurement to its agencies.
The drastic move by the state has been termed as illegal since accountability of public resources begins from different agencies.
The ICT Cabinet Secretary Joe Mucheru call asking all ICT purchases for the government come under his Ministry’s control might give birth to the amendment of the Public Procurement and Disposal Act.
The Ministry is also under scrutiny if it has the capacity, competence and efficiency to handle the huge budget that could easily top over Sh300 billion.
In the previous years, the Ministry of ICT has always been allocated a far too low budget forcing it to rely on industrial regulators to offset some of it’s expenses.
“There would be a clash in what end users need, expect and what the ICT Ministry expect. It would eventually affect the productivity largely on the basis of Red-tape and bureaucracy,” read part of the press release.
Cofek, however, recommends that the Ministry of the ICT should not be the sole decision maker on the procurement of ICT supplies, rather a second experts as advisers to various Ministries, Departments and agencies.
“We advocate that the e-Citizen platform should be managed by the ICT Ministry through an independent agency which could be combined with the roles of the Government Advertisement Agency,” read the release.