Parliament. The Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Mr Jacob Oulanyah, has directed the Minister of Works and Transport to present a statement on the floor of the House next week to explain why foreign companies are being awarded construction work contracts under a threshold meant for Ugandan contractors.
The directive came yesterday during a plenary session following a matter raised by Mr Joshua Anywarach (Padyer County) who questioned whether government is still sticking to the implementation of the Buy Uganda, Build Uganda (BUBU) policy.
Mr Anywarach said he has received complaints from Ugandan contractors saying Uganda National Roads Authority has been giving construction contracts below Shs45b to foreign firms.
“Local contractors are continuing to miss out on contracts of Shs45b and below because foreign companies registered here are also considered for the same provision. Are we proceeding well when the BUBU policy is being violated?” he asked.
Mr Anywarach said the question of local content in procurements for construction work needs to be handled as soon as possible because they are being frustrated.
He cited the ongoing procurement for a contractor to work on drainage systems swamps on 11 roads in areas being supervised under the UNRA stations of Mubende and Jinja districts respectively.
He said foreign companies bid and have been evaluated for the project that is below Shs45b.
None of the responsible ministers were in Parliament at the time the matter was raised but State Minister for Finance in charge of Planning, Mr David Bahati, requested that government be given time for the Works minister to respond.
Mr Oulanyah said there is need for government to explain whether such procurements are in line with BUBU policy hence instructing the Clerk to Parliament to write to the minister to prepare a statement for next week.
“Let the clerk note that matter and notify the responsible minister to come with a statement next week,” he directed.
The order comes nearly two weeks after two Ugandans petitioned the Speaker’s office calling for Parliament’s intervention on the guidelines issued last year by the Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets Authority (PPDA).
The May 14 petition and a copy of which this newspaper has seen, was written by Ms Debora Nakato and Ms Damalie Nanjobe who said as concerned citizens they are not happy with the PPDA guidelines favouring foreign firms on projects reserved for local ones.
They argue that the foreign firms referred to in the PPDA guidelines as “resident suppliers” are mostly state-owned back in their countries and quote low figures while bidding because they do not face high costs of accessing money from banks as is the case to the local contractors.
“We, therefore, pray that Parliament of Uganda intervenes and reigns over the PPDA through its relevant committee to consider leaving out Resident Provider in favour of National Providers only so as to develop local capacity in accordance with the BUBU policy,” they stated.
The petitioners also ask Parliament to direct UNRA to halt the ongoing procurements where foreign firms are competing for the projects below the Shs45b threshold.
Section 2 of the PPDA guideline on Reservation scheme to promote local content in public procurement that were issued in February 2018 provides that procurements for road works whose estimated cost is Shs45b and below shall be reserved for national contractors and resident providers.