A company bidding for contracts in Ghana’s public sector must be willing to pay a bribe if it is to stand any realistic chance of being selected, some businessmen claim.
Speaking on Joy FM’s Super Morning Show Wednesday, two business owners confessed to paying bribes to state officials in order to win contracts.
They were unanimous the country’s Public Procurement law (Act 663), which came into operation in 2004 as part of government’s public financial management reforms, has loopholes which are being exploited gleefully by corrupt state officials.
The first business owner identified as Kwame Kumi said he had received a contract where he was asked to either inflate the price or have the contract given to another person.
“He [contract giver] asked if this was my price and I said yes. Then he said ‘I want an X amount of money and if you are able to add an X amount to the quotation I will give you the contract,'” he narrated.
Mr Kumi said he was left with no option but to do the bidding of the ‘big man’ in order to get the contract.
“You need to endear yourself to the people (public official) because when they are comfortable with you, they will open up to you and tell you how to get the contract,” he said.
But there were problems. He said between the acceptance of the contract and payment, he had to go through the hands of more than 40 people who each demanded something.
Mr Kumi said the ‘big man’ took his ‘cut’ ahead of time but two years after executing the contract, he has not been paid.
The other business owner, Joseph Asante, revealed all the juicy contracts are given to companies that have fat accounts while the crumps are given to small businesses.
He said, ‘you don’t just win a contract…you need to get someone at the procurement department who will give you information about upcoming contracts ahead of other competitors.’
Mr Asante cautioned that, ‘if you don’t have somebody to work out a contract for you, then forget about it.’
He claimed that, ‘you can’t be honest and make good money.’ According to him, the system has been well woven that people who are not willing to pay don’t get any contracts.
The confession by the business owners feeds into claims by then opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP) Members of Parliament in 2016 that local businesses are collapsing because they were unable to compete with giant multinational companies for contracts.
Majority leader, Osei Kyei Mensah Bonsu
Then Minority leader, Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu said since the Act came into force, an estimated 80 percent of government contracts had been awarded under “dubious” circumstances.
At his swearing-in ceremony in January 2017, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo said he will sanitise the system to flush out persons who want to make money through devious behaviour.
The President has since appointed a Minister of State for Public Procurement to tighten the apparent lapses in the issuing of government contracts.
But the two business owners have some radical suggestions they believe when adopted by government will save the country from the claws of corruption.
‘People must be shot,’ Mr Kumi told Super Morning Show host, Kojo Yankson. He wants President Akufo-Addo to set the right tone in the country by discouraging the mild manner suspects are treated.
Mr Asante said government should consider putting in place in an institution like the defunct Ghana Supply Commission to be in charge of procurement of goods for state institutions. ‘We should have an independent person buying the things they want.’
He advocated the passage of a law that will deal ruthlessly with culprits. ‘The United States has the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act that punishes U.S companies that are found to be engaging in corrupt practices,’ he said, adding this can be replicated in Ghana.
‘Because the U.S system makes it so punitive, it becomes impossible for the companies to engage in corrupt acts,’ he said.