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State's tender offers for kenyan youth, women and disabled far below target

BUSINESS
By Paul Wafula | August 17th 2016
Public Service, Youth and Gender Affairs Cabinet Secretary Sicily Kariuki. She said the Government is taking various measures to address specific social and economic needs of young people. (PHOTO: PIUS CHERUIYOT/ STANDARD)

The value of contracts set aside for youth, women and persons with disabilities has hit Sh26 billion, the Government has said.

Public Service, Youth and Gender Affairs Cabinet Secretary Sicily Kariuki said the Government is taking various measures to address specific social and economic needs of young people.

But the Sh26 billion is a far cry from the target set by the Government of 30 per cent under the Access to Government Procurement Opportunities (AGPO) programme.

At this threshold, the Government needs to give the youth and women at least Sh300 billion from its annual procurement budget, going by budgetary spending of 2016-17 financial year. For instance, this year, the Government budget spend stands at Sh2.1 trillion, with almost half of this spend expected to go towards procurement of goods and services.

Ms Kariuki, who has been traversing the country in an effort to explain the achievements of her ministry, said the programme targeting special groups had now been entrenched into Government’s policies.

“This is part of the broader affirmative action policy to create opportunities for vulnerable groups. The total sum value of tenders awarded under the scheme so far is Sh26 billion. This has now been entrenched in the Public Procurement and Disposal Act,” Kariuki said in a statement sent to newsrooms.

Since its inception in 2012, the AGPO programme has been a moving target, being hit by various challenges including legal hurdles.

Former president Mwai Kibaki was the first to propose the initiative when he directed that 10 per cent of all Government contracts be earmarked and awarded to the youth.

But though well intentioned to address the issue of youth unemployment, the policy directive was met by resistance from procurement cartels and lack of a legal backing to enforce it.

President Uhuru Kenyatta became more ambitious after he to ok over the reign when he pushed for the amendment to the procurement rules to allow exclusive 30 per cent of contracts go to these special groups without competition from established firms.

But despite several warnings that those who will fail to effect the directive will be sacked, so far no action has been taken yet against State agencies that fail to meet the requirement.

This has allowed government officers to continue flouting the directive and finding excuses not implementing it to the detriment of the youth, women and vulnerable groups.

Most of the goods and services that would be given to the youth are supplied by insiders who own proxy companies or connected individuals who know how to manoeuvre through Government bureaucracies.

This has left them less lucrative tenders, leaving the big offers to the moneyed suppliers.

Kariuki said participation of young people in public procurement is key to creating employment, wealth and enhancing economic growth.

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