Integrity and transparency crucial to professionalization of public procurement: Forum in Astana

ASTANA. KAZINFORM - Public Procurement specialists from across Europe and Central Asia gathered in Astana on Tuesday to share experiences and best-practices in public procurement reforms. They discussed and promoted cross regional cooperation in public procurement and good governance at the 12th Procurement, Integrity, Management and Openness (PRIMO) Forum, Kazinform has learnt from the World Bank's press service.

The 12th PRIMO Forum was hosted by the Government of Kazakhstan, which had demonstrated its commitment to improving transparency and public accountability. In recent years, the Government has introduced a succession of fundamental reforms to improve Public Financial Management, which have resulted today in a sound legislative framework for public procurement and financial management, a strategic context for medium-term planning and budgeting, with physical and financial goals, as well as improved procurement process, including an efficient and transparent e-Government Procurement system.
The PRIMO Forum was co-sponsored by the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB), with cooperation from the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), the European Investment Bank (EIB), Support for Improvement in Governance and Management (SIGMA), and the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).
More than a decade ago, representatives from Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan first met to develop a common platform to learn from each other, this initiative has grown into an annual Platform and has spurred the creation of an influential community of practice spanning more than 24 countries throughout the Europe and Central Asia region, and beyond.
Previous Forums focused on state-of-the-art developments in public procurement reforms such as centralized purchasing of common-use goods and services, electronic procurement, transparency and integrity in public procurement, and measuring procurement performance.

"This 12th Forum in Astana is a strong sign of commitment of the 25 participating countries to maintain this networking and learning platform. PRIMO has reached a level of network maturity that provides an opportunity to all key public procurement stakeholders to freely exchange their knowledge, experiences, and ideas to foster efficient and sustained regional and global cooperation in public procurement," says Cyril Muller, World Bank Vice President for Europe and Central Asia.

Over three days, the PRIMO Forum will focus on learning and sharing experiences and practices on the professionalization of the procurement function. The procurement function is still not considered a specific profession in most countries and consequently, building procurement professional expertise remains a challenge.
This professionalization, nevertheless, plays a critical role in helping governments to sustain the reform and modernization of their public procurement systems. Ensuring fair and transparent public procurement processes yields to efficient government expenditure utilization, quality and timely service delivery.'
To foster regional and cross-regional cooperation, the participants will strengthen their network by seeking active involvement and support of international and bilateral donors to further improve service delivery.
At the conclusion of the PRIMO Forum, each country will present their achievements in procurement reform over the last year and state their planned actions on procurement reform for the coming year, which will be monitored throughout the year. Learning from their peers, each team will formulate and share an action plan to be monitored by governments, international financial institution (IFIs), and other procurement experts.

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