The high fees the State demands are locking out youth, women and people with disabilities from getting access to the tenders that have been set aside for them.
Under the Access to Government Procurement Opportunities (Agpo) Law of 2015, the special groups are supposed to be awarded 30 per cent of all Government tenders floated in each financial year.
But according to data from Treasury, they have only been able to get 7.7 per cent of the jobs.
The Public Procurement Administrative Review Board (PPARB) has said the special groups are locked out by the high fees required to place a complaint when they feel that they have been denied a contract that is supposed to be theirs.
This allows unscrupulous businessmen who do not fall under the category to win the tenders.
According to the Public Procurement and Asset Disposal Act, 2015, all companies that feel aggrieved after losing a tender are supposed to pay a Sh250,000 fee to the PPARB before launching a complaint.
This includes the special groups.
PPARB Chairperson Faith Waigwa said the fee had made the special groups avoid filing complaints even when it was obvious that they had been denied tenders wrongfully.
“I have been the chairperson of PPARB for only two months and I can tell you that the fee is too high and makes a mockery of the idea for special groups to get the 30 per cent Government tenders,” she said in an interview with The Standard.
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“We must do everything possible to scrap that fee in cases where a company registered by a youth, woman or a person with disability under the AGPO laws is involved.”
According to figures from PPARB, 925 complaints have been determined by the board since its inception in 2009.
None was launched by a member of the special groups.
The complaints usually take 21 days to be concluded.
Waigwa said the process to review the Public Procurement and Asset Disposal Act, 2015 had been started by the Attorney General as part of an omnibus Bill that has been published and presented to Parliament.
Separately, Public Procurement Regulatory Authority (PPRA) Director General Morris Juma pointed out that fraud was another impediment that is keeping the special groups from getting State tenders.
The fraud involves people who do not belong to special groups opening companies and using youth, women and disabled persons as fronts to win tenders, while the actual profits go into their pockets.
“We have started integrating systems in the entire State machinery whereby we work with the Registrar of Persons to tell us about the actual age of the owners and benefactors of the companies involved,” said Mr Juma.