MBALE -The Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs with support from the Justice, Law and Order Sector on Friday September 27, 2013 conducted a sensitization workshop on management of government contracts and legal proceedings for local governments in Eastern Uganda. The workshop, that was held at Protea Hotel attracted over 150 local government officials from the districts of Mbale, Iganga, Soroti, Kumi, Tororo, Bukedea, Namutumba, Kapchorwa, Jinja, Moroto, Kamuli, Butaleja, Sironko, Amuria among others. The workshop was organised to sensitize local governments on the role of the Attorney General in the procurement process and other Government commitments by MDAs and local governments.
The Solicitor General in his remarks delivered by Ms Ketra Katunguka (Commissioner, Directorate of Legal Advisory Services) said that government procurement is highly regulated by both domestic procurement law and internationally accepted procurement guidelines and must therefore be conducted in a manner which promotes transparency, accountability and fairness. This calls for government procurement to maximise competition and achieve value for money - principles the Attorney General’s office must adhere to when exercising its constitutionally mandated functions.
The Attorney General, who was represented by the Director of Civil Litigation Mr. Cheborion Barishaki said that a significant number of legal proceedings against government today are as a result of the mismanagement of contracts and/or failure to honor contractual obligations. He added that the Ministry of justice and Constitutional Affairs thought it necessary to hold this workshop to sensitize the key stakeholders in Eastern Uganda on the management of contracts and compliance with contractual obligations to improve on contract administration.
During the workshop, presentations were made on the functions of the Directorate of Legal Advisory Services, which advises on contracts. Presentations were also made by the Directorate of Civil Litigation, on its role when court disputes arise between Government and a provider. The Deputy Inspector General of Government, Mr. George Bamugemereire presented a paper on integrity in the government procurement process where he underlined the urgent need for transparency and accountability at all levels. Justice Henry Kawesa from the Mbale High Court discussed case flow management in JLOS institutions focusing on the process through which a case passes from commencement to completion. Justice Kawesa emphasized the need to strengthen the 3Cs of Communication, Cooperation and Coordination as a basis for good case management in the Justice, Law and Order Sector.
Participants at the workshop warmly welcomed the interaction with the Attorney General’s chambers on contracts management as a step in the right direction on the path toward better service delivery in local government procurement processes. During the plenary discussions, participants raised a number of issues. These included the matter of low staff in the Attorney General’s chambers to effectively serve all the local governments across the country, the stringent public procurement laws, issues of contract financing (in the context of budget cuts when contracts have already been signed) and low remuneration of public officers as the root cause of corrupt tendencies.
On the matter of low staffing of the Attorney General’s chambers, the participants were informed of the ongoing efforts to recruit more state attorneys by the Ministry of Public Service. Relatedly, regional offices for the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs were being set up in various parts of the country to bring government legal services closer to the beneficiaries. The issue of stringent public procurement laws was put into the context of the need to ensure transparency and fairness. However, it was also explained that there is a legal provision for local governments to propose amendments to these regulations where deemed necessary. Much as government is currently addressing the challenge of staff remuneration, it was emphasized that integrity in the contractual process is of paramount importance if institutions are to achieve their goals and objectives
The Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs has, since last year (2012), carried out these sensitization workshops mainly as a result of Government increasingly losing cases in courts of law. In most scenarios, these losses are a result of government officials not adhering to and maintaining the consultative process with the Attorney General’s chambers on Constitutional matters, especially on interpretation and contract negotiation. The interaction between officials from the Attorney General’s chambers is therefore viewed as a feasible step in tackling these gaps in service delivery saving the tax payer lots of money as well as streamlining service delivery.
Requirements by the Attorney Generals Chambers to clear contracts (66.29 kB)
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"MOJCA in Contracts Management Sensitization Drive" is republished with permission from the Justice, Law and Order Sector."