Monday, June 29, 2009

Suppliers will be protected from unfair competition in COMESA

By Faith Shongwe on June 29,2009 - Times of Swaziland

COMESA member states are allowed to set a threshold that could make their markets inaccessible to other member states that want to view and participate in procurement opportunities.

This is just one of the components of the COMESA Procurement Directives and Regulations that could probably allay fears of unfair competition from other countries among suppliers.

Local suppliers will soon be able to view and participate in procurement opportunities available in the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) member states.

This comes after the COMESA Heads of State recently adopted the Regional Public Procurement Regulations during the COMESA Policy Organ meeting in Zimbabwe about two weeks ago.

It aims at developing an open, competitive and transparent procurement system in the COMESA region through technical and professional development of a dedicated cadre of government procurement personnel.

COMESA member states will announce procurement opportunities directed at either national suppliers or regional suppliers, through the use of a web-based IT system called PROMIS.

According to a member of the Public Procurement Complaints and Appeal Board in Kenya, Akich Okola, the set threshold would be reviewed after a certain period of time.

Suppliers

“I know a lot of you may be thinking that by opening a window in the COMESA region such that suppliers can now view and participate in procurement opportunities in other member states will pose unfair competition among suppliers. Let me assure you that the COMESA Procurement Directives and Regulations say that countries can set a threshold that can make their markets inaccessible to other COMESA member states that want to participate in procurement opportunities made available in that particular country,” Okola said.

He was speaking during the COMESA Business Opportunity Seminar hosted by the Ministry of Finance in collaboration with the COMESA Secretariat and the International Law Institute at the Royal Villas on Saturday.

One of the participants of the seminar wanted to know how countries such as Swaziland, which belongs to a number of regional trade blocs, would harmonise the opening up of the COMESA market in terms of procurement opportunities.

In response, Okola said; “All the other regional blocs are a product of the Lagos directive. They should be able to complement each other.”

Suppliers will respond to the procurement opportunities availed by other COMESA member states by submitting their bids in accordance with the host country procurement regulations and also in line with specific instructions as contained in the national tender documents.