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Public Universities and Schools Defy State Order on Tender Openness

Public Universities and Schools Defy State Order on Tender Openness.

Public Universities and Schools Defy State Order on Tender Openness

Universities and schools have defied a State directive to disclose information about tender winners, hurting efforts to enhance transparency in the awarding of deals worth billions of shillings every year.

Disclosures show that only five percent (35 out of 672) of institutions of higher learning (universities, colleges, and technical institutions) and less than one percent (two out of 32,800) primary and secondary schools had updated the information as of the end of October 2023.

The disclosures by the Public Procurement Regulatory Authority (PPRA) highlight struggles facing the government in efforts to weed out graft and the lack of transparency on the beneficiaries of the tenders at the institutions every year.

PPRA first ordered the institutions to publish information on tenders and their winning bidders on the Public Procurement Information Portal (PPIP) in July 2022.

Disclosure of the beneficial ownership information is also part of the conditions for Kenya to access loans from the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

“A review of the PPIP as at October 31, 2023 reveals that only 35 public colleges (inclusive of tertiary institutions) out of 672 and two secondary and primary schools out of 32,800 have registered on the portal,” PPRA said.

Clouded in mystery

The requirement to make the disclosures is anchored on the Public Procurement and Asset Disposal Regulations of 2020. Additionally, the previous administration had issued an executive order for all public procurement entities to make the disclosures on the PPIP in 2018.

Issuance of tenders across the country’s public learning institutions has for years been clouded in mystery amid allegations of pre-determined winners of the tenders that are valued at billions of shillings.

The National Treasury and donors pump billions of shillings into public universities, colleges, technical institutions, and schools every year, with contractors jostling for tenders to supply a range of services besides delivering goods.

PPRA attributed the high level of non-compliance to the lack of procurement professionals to advise the institutions on how to adhere to the legal requirements in line with the 2020 regulations.

The authority says that the learning institutions that lack in-house procurement professions should outsource the services to ensure compliance.

Beneficial owners

Besides disclosing information on the tender winners, details that all public procuring entities are required to upload on the PPIP portal also reveal beneficial owners of the firms.

Entities filing beneficial ownership information are required to first identify who their beneficial owners are before giving notice to the person it has identified as the beneficial owner.

A beneficial owner is then required to provide details to the registrar including names, Kenya Revenue Authority Personal Identification Number, national identity card or passport copies, and the date when they became beneficial owners.

Disclosures on beneficial owners help fight graft and conflict of interest besides also revealing investors who use nominee accounts to side-step ownership limits of listed firms.

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