Transparency International Zambia (TIZ) says government must end the trend of over pricing contracts especially in the road sector.

In a statement yesterday, TIZ executive director Wesley Chimbamba noted that government spent inconceivably large amounts of money when procuring goods and services which did not even reflect the market value.

“TIZ has challenged every sitting government to be more accountable to its citizens especially in the area of public resource management. The main area of concern is public procurements. As the largest consumer of different goods and services, the government spends a lot of money on public procurements and loses a lot of that money in the process. The government has a responsibility to be diligent and prudent in the way they spend tax payers’ money. What is of concern is a trend of government agencies procuring goods and services at non market reflective costs,” Chibamba stated.

“Always when government is procuring goods and services, they do so at astronomical amounts which do not reflect the market value. Even simple things like stationery, or the shirts for Labour Day or any other public events, these items are procured at very high prices, probably double the normal amount if you were to buy the same product at an open market. Even in construction, Zambia is always paying higher contract amounts than what should be normal comparatively in the region, especially in the road sector. This trend should not be allowed to continue. Usually this is as a result of collusion between suppliers/contractors and the people in charge of procurements.”

Chibamba also observed that there is a lot of corruption in the awarding of procurement contracts.

“People are viewing government as a milking cow when they are awarded contracts to supply goods and services. There is a lot of corruption in the awards processes of these contracts, on top of that, the corrupt lot still exploit government by charging exorbitant prices for their goods and services. There is a clique of people that feel entitled to be awarded government contracts to supply goods and services simply because they support the ruling party. Whatever the case, this amount of exploitation should end forthwith. This level of institutionalization of corruption should come to an end. We urge all government departments and agencies to engage in business transactions that are premised on integrity,” he stated.

Chibamba further called on government to come up with reforms to revise the policies to do with public procurements so that the procurements could work for all Zambians and not just the corrupt few.

“If the government was procuring goods and services at ‘normal’ prices and not exaggerated exorbitant prices, they would have more resources to obtain more goods and services. Also this would free resources to be redirected towards other competing interests for which there are no resources. We can manage to provide decent public services to the citizens if we can manage the meagre resources very well,” stated Chibamba.

“We are therefore calling for institutional, legal and policy reforms around public procurements. Transparency International Zambia is ready to work with the government in bringing about these reforms such that public procurements work for the Zambian people and not the corrupt few with ties to government officials. The government has a responsibility to obtain value for money in every transaction.”