By Alhaji Dauda
The young, dynamic and result-oriented Chief Executive Officer of the National Public Procurement Authority (NPPA), Ibrahim Brima Swarray, informed students, during the Annual Public Lecture organised by the Institute of Public Administration and Management (IPAM) on the 25th July 2019, at the Miatta Conference Centre in Freetown, that he has saved the current Government, under the leadership of President Julius Maada Bio, not less than seventy million dollars ($70M) in just one year.
The event brought students, lecturers and other relevant stakeholders together in what turned out to be a jam-packed conference centre. When the CEO of NPPA took the podium, he intimated that when he became Head of that institution it became apparent that there was a lot of abnormalities he noticed in how public procurement was done. “I vowed that such should not continue because we need to have value for money,” he affirmed adding that rigid measures were outlined on procurement procedures should be adhered to,” he furthered maintaining that since that time they have stopped Government from getting involved in businesses that will be a liability to the Government in order to get best value for money.
“As the preventive arm of Government, I have saved the country such a huge money focusing on best value for money,” he noted maintaining that he is working hand in glove with the Anti- Corruption Commissioner, Francis Ben Kaifala, whom he said he regularly compares notes with.
Swarray said when Government decided to procure books and buses for school children there were cries that NPPA is holding up the process. Officials from both the Ministries of Education and Transport were complaining, he highlighted, but stated that had it not being for the NPPA the buses could have been bought above the actual price. “The buses were bought for 4.8 million dollars instead of 6million dollars.”
The CEO revealed that it was the usual practice for Ministries, Department and Agencies to buy as they want which, according to him, created a leeway for public funds to go down the drain or just dissipate in thin air. He disclosed how it was for that very reason why a Price Norm was put in place in order to bring uniformity in procurement. “For example, if one Ministry purchases a computer for 6million Leones it should be the same for all Ministries,” he underscored.
Swarray said when he took over non-competitiveness was the order of the day with certain public institutions crying of urgency to do procurement and therefore appealed for restrictive and sole sourcing procurement. “I encouraged them by denying them those privileges and ensured that they were punished by publishing their names in our bulletin,” he said adding that such yielded Government savings of firstly 63 million dollars and secondly 4.7 million dollars.
The NPPA CEO stated that to enhance transparency and encourage investors they thought it wise to establish a Directorate of Electronic Government Procurement which will become fully functional in just one and a half years’ time. This, he said, means that public procurement will no longer be done manually but electronically. “This will enhance confidence in donors, business people and encourage direct foreign investment,” he optimistically stated.
He told the students not to consider themselves as future leaders of tomorrow but rather as future leaders of today enjoining them not to wait for tomorrow as it will never come telling them that there is too much in them only if they move from their comfort zones assuring how the sky could only be their limit. Swarray said the only University he has attended is IPAM.
He said no one will build Sierra Leone but only ourselves if we are committed and transparent.
The Chief Executive Officer challenged the students to show him one country that is highly developed which is full of corruption Referencing China, he said, corruption carries a capital punishment.
Swarray told the audience that effectiveness and efficiency are the order of the day saying the current Bio led administration is setting the platform for a high level of transparency to be intact.
“If Sierra Leoneans are ready and willing to learn more business people will flow in and there will be job opportunities,” he motivated stating how it is not possible for Government to provide all the jobs in the country.
When the indefatigable NPPA CEO mentioned that he is proud to be an IPAMA there was a deafening applause from the audience.
His was a powerful and motivational lecture.