HARARE – Treasury has threatened “punitive” measures against corrupt government officials found conniving with private suppliers of goods and services to cream off fat profits out of a porous government tender process that has shrunk the national purse and driven record inflation.
This follows shock revelations parliament had contracted two companies to supply laptops and desktops at prices as high as US$10 000 per gadget.
In a statement Monday, Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube also threatened to blacklist private companies acting in connivance with procurement officers within government departments to siphon huge amounts of money through price inflation.
Ncube said there have been instances in which private suppliers have priced a 2kg pack of chicken at US$30, five times the market price of US$6 maximum while a bag of cement has also been pegged at an equivalent of US$18 on some construction projects.
“These pricing models are leading to extortionist pricing of goods and services supplied to the Government Ministries, Departments and Agencies not anchored on economic fundamentals,” said the Treasury boss.
“We have seen supply contracts with prices clearly determined using forward parallel market exchange rates some as high as ZWL2000 per USD.
“The extortionist pricing of goods and services supplied to Government is in most cases not anchored on economic fundamentals.”
Ncube added, “Such, ladies and gentlemen is the extent of overpricing which is rendering the Government budget inadequate and our position as government is that this is not acceptable.
”The combined effect of the above behaviours has resulted the rapid erosion of Budgeted resources and hence the need for Government to come up with a raft of measures to deal with the menace.”
The minister threatened unspecified action against procurement officers who connive with tenderpreneurs to rob the public of its resources.
“The value for money process will now result in punitive measures being taken against any Government officials found to be complicit to overpricing and procurement malpractices while suppliers will be blacklisted and excluded from future supply contracts,” he said.
“All existing contracts are now being subject to a value for money audit before payments are made.”