Tough new laws in the pipeline to deal with tender cartels and brokers
By Alphonce Shiundu | February 5th 2015
Kenya: Cartels and brokers who have been minting billions of shillings as kickbacks and bribes from Government tenders have their days numbered if the Government has its way.
The Jubilee administration has come up with a new bill that will see brokers, cartels and their agents fined or jailed for taking illegal shortcuts in Government procurement.
Companies that break procurement rules will also be heavily fined.
Breaching the law
The Public Procurement and Asset Disposal Bill, according to National Assembly Majority Leader Aden Duale, is a priority bill that will be debated and passed as soon as the House resumes next Tuesday.
It proposes the blacklisting of those found culpable of breaching the law.
The bill comes as good news to State officers who have been under pressure to rig tenders in favour of connected individuals.
But it is the worst news ever for the cartels and brokers who have made a career of scavenging for contracts, and then bribing their way to influence the outcomes.
"A person shall not unduly influence or exert pressure on any member of an evaluation committee and disposal committee, or on any employee or agent of a procuring entity, or the accounting officer to take a particular action which favours or tends to favour a particular tenderer," the draft law published on December 8, 2014 reads.
If they "inappropriately influence tender evaluations", then they will be charged and shall be liable upon conviction to a fine not exceeding Sh4 million or 10 years imprisonment, or to both.
"A company found culpable of breaching tendering laws will be fined Sh10 million," reads the proposed law.
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That's not all. All public officers who breach the law will be subject to "internal disciplinary action", which in some cases may lead to dismissal from public service.
Any other person who is not a State or public officer shall be banned for a minimum of three years, the bill adds.
The bill makes it clear that if any person involved in a Government contract is found guilty of procurement malfeasance, then they will be disqualified.
"If a contract has already been entered into with the person, the contract shall be voidable at the option of the procuring entity," the bill reads.
It will also be an offence for a blacklisted firm to seek to work as a sub-contractor.
The tough rules come at a time when the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission is overwhelmed with complaints from some accounting officers about harassment by some MPs and politicians over the awarding of lucrative tenders.
The proposed law does also targets workers in county governments, public universities, independent offices and commissions, public schools, pension funds of public entities, constituencies, schools, and parastatals.
"This Act (if approved) shall prevail in case of any inconsistency between this Act and any other legislation or Government notices or circulars, in matters relating to procurement and asset disposal," reads a clause in the bill.
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