Hope Springs: Pravin’s Procurement revolution kicks into gear

As you’d expect in a young democracy with high ideals, there is always good news to be found in South Africa. You just need to know where to look. Like this week’s report from Treasury on progress being made by the low profile Chief Procurement Officer.

Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan created this office during his first term. During his Budget Speech last month he told it will start stripping R25bn a year in wastage from the public sector’s R500bn annual procurement. Reading through the report suggests that target is within reach.

Much of the waste of taxpayer money is caused by the State’s fragmented spending practices that are now being centralised through technology. For instance, although the public sector spends R10bn a year with travel agents (half with just three) it receives no discounts. Because hundreds of employees have the power to approve thousands of disbursements, the public sector pays top dollar, too, for phones, banking, IT, property and a range of other services.

If you doubt whether Pravin can deliver on the technology, consider what a difference SARS’s eFiling has made to our lives. Not everyone is celebrating though, The new online eTenders portal launches next month at a maintenance cost of just R16 000 a month. It introduced much needed transparency to one of the most festered of SA’s corruption sores. And will save a staggering R400m a year Government spends on advertising the tenders in newspapers.