Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua has asked procurement officers to prioritise awarding of tenders to women, the youth and people living with disabilities.
DP Gachagua observed that conniving Supply Chain officials have ensured that this category of Kenyans is locked out of business with Government.
Addressing the Second Procurement and Supply Chain Dialogue forum at Sarova Whitesands Beach Resort, Mombasa County, Mr Gachagua said these groups must be supported as required by law, policies and other regulations on procurement for inclusive socio-economic development.
He said women, youth and people living with disabilities have not benefited as much as they should because of some rogue officers who work in cahoots with goods and services providers in rigging out genuine beneficiaries.
“Some people register companies using women but the women are nowhere. Young people are registered as people doing business but the actual beneficiaries are not the youth, same to people living with disabilities. I want to appeal to you (supply chain officers) to allow these groups to do business,” the Deputy President said.
Those who deserve are known, but due to an unfair process, deserving women, youth and people living with disabilities are rigged out, Mr Gachagua said.
“We are calling for integrity in the procurement and tendering. We must follow due process. Those who cannot do what is right must be dealt with, by the law,” Mr Gachagua said.
At the same time, the Deputy President defended the supply chain sector against collective condemnation in relation to corruption.
“There are many serious professionals in the procurement and supply chain sector. There are also a few rogue officers who are corrupt in tendering processes. Let people be called by name for what they are. Targeting all procurement officers for condemnation is unfair and needs to stop,” the Deputy President said.
He added that the profession does not operate in a vacuum and like others in our society, 5 per cent are the bad apples.
However, he asked procurement officers to dignify the profession by exposing and dealing with the rotten apples among them.
While raising concerns over corruption, which denies deserving Kenyans an opportunity to do business with the Government, Mr Gachagua suggested to investigating agencies to hire procurement and supply chain experts in the fight against corruption.
“I want to ask investigation agencies to recruit procurement professionals to help investigate cases of corruption. Some police officers are clueless; they have no idea of what they are looking for,” he said adding that without the requisite expertise, corruption cases flop and taxpayer’s money is lost.
He challenged the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission and other agencies to work harder in ending corruption.
“We cannot keep complaining that we lose billions of shillings to corruption. The Government has allocated tax-payer’s resources to institutions to root out this vice. We have the capacity to implement fool-proof systems. We have adequate laws and we are ready to strengthen them where there are gaps,” Mr Gachagua said.
While calling for inclusion of high-tech ways for transparency in procurement, the Deputy President said such systems will give an opportunity to hustlers too.
“We cannot have an inclusive Supply Chain that does not value Integrity. We cannot have an inclusive Supply Chain that does not regard transparency and non-interference. The Supply Chain Sector has the key to birthing the next generation of millionaires from the bottom,” he said.
While challenging financial institutions to support women, the youth and vulnerable groups, Mr Gachagua called for fair consideration for the benefit of those at the bottom of the socio-economic pyramid. He said the Hustler Fund has helped bridge the financial gap.
“Financial inclusion will make sense if we actualize the tendering processes to also favour upcoming enterprises, which may not have a rich track record. Women, the youth and people living with disabilities must benefit in a big way if we are to uplift the hustler to the high table,” the Deputy President said.
For socio-economic transformation, the Deputy President said the supply chain has a direct contribution to lowering the cost of production, adding that a long and bureaucratic process in procurement and supply of farm inputs piles the cost unto the farmer and other consumers at the bottom of the socio-economic pyramid.