Keynote Address “Forum on Public Procurement for
Resilience and Sustainable Growth”
26 and 27 June 2018 in Beirut
Institut des Finances Basil Fuleihan
Good morning Ladies and Gentlemen, dear colleagues, fellow panelists,
On behalf of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia, I am honoured to participate in this important conference as a panelist together with colleagues from the World Bank, French Development Agency (Agence Française de Développement) as well as national stakeholders from the Central Tender Board.
Our discussions will cover questions of competitiveness and innovation, the challenges of translating policy into practice as well as capacity and governance of procurement. All of this embedded in the principles of Agenda 2030, especially Sustainable Development Goal 12 that calls for ensuring sustainable consumption and production patterns.
As UN Regional Commission we are an active stakeholder and advisor to governments in the region on the implementation of the SDGs and since we just hosted the Arab Forum on Sustainable Development, and by “doing more and better with less”! That responsibility refers to all our actions as individuals and as institutions.
Resource efficiency helps to achieve overall development plans, reduce future economic, environmental and social costs, strengthen economic competitiveness and reduce poverty. Agenda 2030 makes it clear that sustainable public procurement is but one crucial ingredient of a systemic approach to increase net welfare gains from economic activities based on comprehensive cooperation among stakeholders, be they public or private or else.
I am no procurement expert like many of you here. Since my colleagues in ESCWA are the substantive experts, I asked them “why is public procurement key to resilience and sustainable growth?”
As much we individuals strive for well-being and prosperity of our families within our means and resources, as much it is the responsibility of governments to exercise good governance and use available resources efficiently for the well-being (resilience) and prosperity of their societies and people. Governments’ responsible decision-making on allocating public resources - for health, education services and infrastructure – is the key to the future of a country. It is the key to bolstering economic activity and social safety nets for resilience in times of crisis. It is the key to support innovation towards economic diversification and competitiveness. And, it is the key to emphasise on environmental and ecological considerations.
Now we need to work together to improve the policies, laws, institutions and instruments pertaining to public procurement. I believe we agree that governance reforms across the Arab region are overdue to support reforms enabling fiscal sustainability, promoting income equality and fostering fair allocation of economic gains, especially also caring for the needs of marginalized and vulnerable populations. In the context of the CEDRE conference, I very much welcome and encourage the efforts of the Lebanese Government for taking the lead.
On “capacity” and considering that many countries in our region suffer from fragile, post-conflict economies, thus capacity constraints are of major concern. Concentrating international support on strengthening public procurements systems, institutions, policies and personnel, may prove a viable strategy to:
- create positive spill-over and network effects along value chains,
- reduce opportunities for corruption,
- empower innovators and entrepreneurs,
- contribute towards (re-)strengthening trust in government institutions and actors when taxes paid lead to improvement in public services.
At ESCWA and together with partners, we strife to integrate principles of effective and successful governance in procurement – increased value for money, improved service delivery and transition to private sector-led growth - not just in the way we work, but also in the way we conceive public procurement programmes.
Ladies and gentlemen, I hope we continue with this fruitful debate towards formulating specific recommendations. I thank you