Interview: Nongolougo Soro
What is the impact of computerising public tender procedures on transparency?
NONGOLOUGO SORO: The government of Côte d’Ivoire has taken bold steps toward improving transparency in public tender procedures. Indeed, by computerising various government processes, there is much more openness. Among the bold steps taken by the government is the development by SNDI, on behalf of the Ministry of Economy and Finance, of an integrated computer system for public tender procedures called Système Intégré de Gestion des Marchés Publics (SIGMAP). An integrated computer system built around a software application also developed by SNDI, SIGMAP has been deployed nationwide by the Ministry of Economy and Finance to increase transparency in public tender procedures. Any public tender of CFA30m (€45,000) or more, regardless of the state agency that issues it, is required to be processed via this integrated computer system. Only emergency and highly confidential public tenders may be allowed to forgo that requirement with the Ministry of Economy and Finance’s permission. The use of SIGMAP enables the government and state agencies to follow a public tender from when it is launched, through the pre-selection of acceptable offers and to contract attribution and execution. Furthermore, when an offer reaches the public tenders management team at the Ministry of Economy and Finance, various government entities are involved in each step of the process, which reduces the probability of favouring one bidder. The committees involved are also evaluated upon completion of the project, thereby guaranteeing that offers are chosen carefully and objectively.
How can computerised public finance management in the West African Economic and Monetary Union improve traceability?
SORO: Most of the countries in the region have put in place tools to help them track the execution of state budgets. In its continuous efforts to strengthen transparency in public finance management, in 2000 the government of Côte d’Ivoire asked SNDI to develop and deploy an integrated public finance management computer system called Système Intégré de Gestion des Finances Publiques (SIGFIP). The system is used to follow the execution of the budget.
SIGFIP is complemented by another integrated system developed by the SNDI and known as Système Inté- gré de Gestion du Budget (SIGBUD). SIGBUD is used by the Ministry of Economy and Finance to develop the national budget of the country for a given year. The budget is then transferred automatically into SIGFIP after having been voted on in Parliament. Once the budget is in SIGFIP, the execution of each item is closely controlled and followed by the Ministry of Economy and Finance, as well as the supervisor of a given item. A module in SIGFIP enables the Treasury to execute payments on specific items. Overall, these types of integrated computerised systems automate the whole budget chain, from creation to execution and spending, and it is a good way to ensure that resources are used the way they are supposed to be and that spending does not exceed planned levels. Due to its positive impact and strength in terms of public finance management, SIGFIP has been praised by the World Bank and the IMF, and has been adopted by four other countries in the union, namely, Senegal, Benin, Togo and Guinea-Bissau. A couple of countries in West and Central Africa are also currently evaluating SIGFIP for their public finance management.
What steps are being taken to improve the regulatory framework for the IT sector?
SORO: The IT sector is undergoing reform, as the existing framework is outdated. For instance, new legislation on cybercrime and electronic transactions have been voted on in Parliament. Several other reforms are being worked on by the Ministry of Postal Services and Information and Communication Technology, along with other actors. The implementation of new reforms will definitely help boost the IT sector in the country.
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