If Angola’s recent downgrade to ‘B’ status by Fitch is anything to go by, the new public procurement law might be put through its paces sooner than expected.
Among the changes are four portions of law which have been eliminated and at least one new inclusion all aimed at cutting the drag.
Tatiana Serrão, senior advocate at FBL Advogados in Angola says the qualification phase on public tenders, the negotiation procedure, the “electronic dynamic acquisition system” and the special procedure for consulting services have all been eliminated.
On the other hand, the inclusion of the simplified procurement procedure comes in on cases of low value contracts and “in objective situations that require use of a non-competitive procedure.” It’s intended, as the Finance Ministry put it, to streamline processes and modernise practice.
But when it comes to non-competitive procedures, fears abound that corruption may find a foothold and inhibit fair practice. In this regard, says Serrão, the new law does not appear to close gaps in corruption relating to public tenders. “Corruption is a structural problem of the major part of African countries. Even if we have the better laws, we will continue to have to deal with corruption issues.”
Non-competitive public contracts would be awarded in instances of emergency where unforeseen events, that are not the fault of the public authority, have arisen; in cases of technical or artistic ability where the contract can be signed only with one specific builder or supplier of services; If in past public tenders, there haven’t been any offers; in case of anticipated termination of the contract for reasons attributed to the co-contractor; or in case of contracts that must be signed according to a specific framework agreement.”
It remains to be seen what effect this will have on Angola’s bleak financial outlook. What is certain, is that when it comes to the State coffers, few topics get as much attention as the awarding of public contracts.
LEX Africa Angola Member is FBL Advogados