Give school uniforms contract to GNTDA - Chairman

The Cape Coast branch of the Ghana National Tailors and Dressmakers Association (GNTDA), on Tuesday called for standardized procedure and transparency in the award of contract of government�s free school uniforms. The Association lauded the policy by the government and said it had brought relief to parents, but noted that the mode of award of contract by the Cape Coast Municipal Assembly was not known to the Association. Mr. Alex Odame, Chairman of the Association, expressed these concerns during its sensitization programme held in Cape Coast to educate members and also to bring its problems to the fore for government and other stakeholders to assist in addressing them. He pointed out that local industries were not benefitting from the initiative and that even materials used for sewing of the uniforms were brought from elsewhere. He said a thorough desk study had been made on the procurement procedure in Ghana per the Public Procurement Act that aims to streamline public procurement practices for fairness and transparency. According to him, the study conducted by the Association with support from the Business Sector Advocacy Challenge Fund (BUSAC), had revealed that a greater percentage of earnings from sewing were from sewing public school uniforms. Mr. Odame said but that had significantly reduced over the years and a gap created because the government does not involve the Association as stakeholders in providing the uniforms for the public. He said this development had resulted in loss of revenue and difficulty in paying taxes, and reduction in income levels, business stagnation and difficulty in meeting family obligations. Mr. Odame said the study also confirmed the suspicion held by the members of GNTDA that standard procurement processes were not being followed, adding that most of the few contracts that came in were awarded on preferential basis. �These award of contracts on preferential basis without recourse to competence in most cases resulted in poor quality of sewn uniforms with some uniforms completely out of sync with the sizes of pupils,� he added. He said the study recommended that the Assembly and other stakeholders must frequently engage local artisans to understand their problems and tailor appropriate solutions to them so that they would not only be seen as sources for mobilizing revenue but also to build their capacity to expand their businesses for a win-win situation. �Members must constantly update themselves on current trends in the industry to remain competitive and attract contracts from various stakeholders,� he advised. Also, he said, there should be a monitoring system to constantly audit the output of members to maintain and improve quality standards whilst the Regional Coordinating Council must be more proactive in ensuring that the region got its fair share of contracts with respect to the free school uniform policy. Consequently, he said, there should be frequent engagements and follow-ups with the relevant ministries involved in the allocation of the free uniform policy. Again, he said, the procurement system must be made to work and the tender process should be transparent and equitable with frequent engagement with local artisans to understand their problems and tailor appropriate solutions to them.