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Publication: February 25, 2024 2:02 PM

Latest Update:16 de September de 2023

Simplified contracting, the fight against corruption and transparency in public accounts

By Ribeiro Tenguna*

Simplified contracting has been a recurring topic of debate in the fight against corruption in Angola. Recently, an article published by Novo Jornal on April 29, 2023, raised concerns about the use of this contracting model and its possible impacts on the transparency of public accounts. The article pointed out that simplified contracting, although legal, has been associated with corrupt practices, jeopardizing efforts to promote integrity and honesty in public administration.

 

According to data analyzed in a debate promoted by Omunga, in 2022, simplified contracting was widely used, filling 90% of all contracts that year. This high rate of use has aroused concern among analysts, including the Attorney General’s Office (PGR), which has warned of possible excesses in this form of contracting. In addition, the country also ranks poorly in the Transparency International Index, which reinforces the need to review contracting practices.

 

Simplified contracting, known as direct award, is a method provided for in Angolan legislation for awarding works. However, according to economist and lecturer Carlos Rosado de Carvalho, quoted by Novo Jornal, this form of contracting should be the exception and not the rule. Rosado argues that the public procurement law in Angola is solid, but its application has distorted the established principles. He points out that contracts worth more than 500 million kwanzas (around 1 million dollars) should be put out to public tender, but this practice has become less and less frequent.

 

The lack of public tenders and the prevalence of simplified contracting raise questions about the transparency of contracting processes and the possibility of corruption.

 

Simplified contracting is seen as more susceptible to irregularities due to its greater discretion and less competition between potential service providers. This lack of competition can lead to manipulation and undue favoritism, undermining the efficiency and suitability of public contracts.

 

It is essential that the Angolan authorities pay attention to the importance of transparency in public accounts and in the contracting of services. Promoting public tenders on a regular, broad and open basis is essential to guarantee equal opportunities, avoid corruption and select suppliers on the basis of objective criteria. In addition, oversight and control mechanisms need to be strengthened to ensure that public resources are used efficiently and for the benefit of society.

 

Transparency in public accounts is a fundamental pillar for building a fairer and more developed society. The population has the right to know how public resources are used and to demand accountability from managers. To do this, we need to strengthen control institutions, such as the Attorney General’s Office and auditing bodies, and guarantee the participation of civil society in monitoring contracting processes and demanding transparency and integrity.

 

Angola has solid legislation and the potential to promote transparency in public accounts. The authorities, together with civil society, need to work to improve the application of these laws and strengthen control mechanisms. Only with transparent and responsible management of public resources will it be possible to effectively combat corruption and promote the country’s sustainable development.

 

The analysis of presidential decrees carried out by the Public Transparency Portal (PTP) reveals a worrying trend towards simplified contracting by the Angolan president, João Lourenço. This raises questions about transparency and fairness in the awarding of public contracts, as well as the possibility of favoritism and lack of competition in this process.

 

It is important to note that the Public Transparency Portal plays a fundamental role in disseminating information on the government’s budgetary and financial execution, allowing citizens to access relevant data and monitor the use of public resources. By analyzing the presidential decrees, it is possible to identify patterns and trends that may raise concerns about the way contracts are being awarded.

 

The preference for simplified contracting, as indicated by the analysis of the decrees, calls into question the principles of equal opportunities and fair competition in public contracting. Although this modality is provided for in Angolan legislation and can be used in certain situations, its excessive use can compromise the transparency and efficiency of procurement processes.

 

Simplified contracting is known for its greater discretion and fewer formalities than public tenders. Although it can be justified in emergency situations or when speed is of the essence, it is essential that this form of contracting be the exception, not the rule. The widespread adoption of simplified contracting can open up loopholes for corruption and undue favoritism, damaging society’s trust in government and compromising the effectiveness of the fight against corruption.

 

Given this scenario, it is essential that there is a joint effort to promote a paradigm shift in the awarding of public contracts. It is essential that President João Lourenço and his government prioritize transparency, integrity and fair competition in public procurement. This involves strengthening control mechanisms, improving legislation and encouraging the active participation of civil society in monitoring and inspecting procurement processes.

 

In addition, it is necessary to invest in capacity building and training for the public servants involved in these processes, to ensure that they have the necessary knowledge to conduct contracts ethically, transparently and in compliance with current legislation. We need to create a culture of responsibility and integrity in public administration, in which the public interest is always at the forefront.

 

Promoting transparency and integrity in public accounts is a challenge that requires the commitment of all parties involved. The government, control bodies, civil society and the press need to work together to ensure that public procurement is carried out in a transparent, fair and corruption-free manner.

 

Only by adopting transparent practices, valuing healthy competition and strengthening control mechanisms will it be possible to combat corruption, promote efficiency in the management of public resources and establish an environment conducive to the sustainable development of Angola and the well-being of its population.

 

The challenge has been set, and it is the responsibility of all the players involved in the public procurement process to ensure that transparency and integrity prevail, thus contributing to building a fairer, more equal and developed society.

 

It is therefore essential that simplified contracting is reviewed and used more restrictively, prioritizing transparent and competitive public tenders. Transparency and integrity must be the pillars of public administration, allowing resources to be directed to the areas most in need and to benefit the entire population. The fight against corruption and the search for ethical and transparent public management must be central objectives for Angola’s progress and the well-being of its citizens.

 

 

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* Ribeiro Tenguna is the author of several books and the bestseller “Quanto Vale a Vida do Africano”, a member of the Angola Youth Literature Brigade and the Experimental Group of the Brazilian Academy of Letters. He is a Computer Engineer, Clinical Psychoanalyst, Conflict Resolution Specialist, MBA-Master in Business Administration from Fundação Getúlio Vargas (FGV) and writes weekly for PTP.

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