IMPLEMENTATION OF THE PRESIDENTIAL DIRECTIVE ON MICRO, SMALL AND MEDIUM ENTERPRISES ORDER 2020
In a National Address on 28th March 2021, His Excellency the State President, Dr Lazarus McCarthy Chakwera issued a directive on public procurement to support local suppliers, in compliance with the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) Order 2020 issued by the Public Procurement and Disposal of Assets Authority (PPDA).
As a means of implementing the Presidential directive, the Secretary to the President and Cabinet further issued a directive on 17th August 2021 to all Controlling Officers of Government Ministries, Departments and Agencies, as well as District Commissioners and Chief Executives of City Councils, to implement the MSME Order with immediate effect, by buying from local MSMEs and marginalized groups (the youth, women and people living with disabilities). Controlling Officers were therefore directed to prioritize procurement of locally made goods, services and works in the spirit of the Buy Malawi Strategy.
Among other measures issued in the directive by the Secretary to the President and Cabinet in order to achieve full participation in public procurement by local firms and to promote procurement of locally made products was for the parties affected to engage the Malawi Bureau of Standards (MBS) for application of both mandatory and voluntary standards. In this respect, suppliers were encouraged to ensure that their products comply with relevant Malawi Standards, and procuring and disposing entities were encouraged to ensure that the goods and services they procure meet requirements of relevant Malawi Standards.
We would therefore like to bring to the attention of affected stakeholders the following in relation to this directive:
- Process to be followed by MSMEs when they wish to seek services from the MBS to assess conformity of their goods with relevant standards.
- Process to be followed by procuring and disposing entities to ensure that the goods and services they procure meet requirements of relevant Malawi Standards.
- Development of Malawi Standards.
- Skills development and technical support to MSMEs.
PROCESS TO BE FOLLOWED BY MSMES WHEN THEY WISH TO SEEK SERVICES FROM THE MBS TO ASSESS CONFORMITY OF THEIR GOODS TO RELEVANT STANDARDS
Where mandatory standards exist, MSMEs are encouraged to join the MBS certification schemes. The MBS operates two mandatory certification schemes that apply to local products and services, one covering products (permit scheme – certification of tangible product that can bear a quality mark on the product or its packaging) and the other covering services such as catering (designation scheme – certification scheme for service providers with intangible product that cannot bear a quality mark but a certificate is issued to demonstrate process compliance with relevant Malawi Standard). Certification under these schemes would guarantee acceptability of the goods or services by the procuring and disposing entities, hence promoting the procurement of local products and services.
Where a supplier wants to sell goods covered by voluntary standards to a procuring and disposing entity, the MBS will carry out assessment of compliance of their products with relevant voluntary standards on batch-by-batch basis, and a batch certificate would be issued, which they can use as proof of conformity of the goods to relevant voluntary standards. The following would be the process to be followed in such instances:
- Check with the MBS of the existence of a relevant standard
- Produce goods in compliance with the relevant standard
- When the consignment (batch) of the goods is ready, engage the MBS for batch certification
- Complete appropriate forms for the batch certification service and pay the appropriate fees
- The MBS will sample from the consignment to assess compliance with relevant standards
- Certification of the consignment (batch) if it complies with the relevant standard
PROCESS TO BE FOLLOWED BY PROCURING AND DISPOSING ENTITIES TO ENSURE THAT THE GOODS AND SERVICES THEY PROCURE MEET REQUIREMENTS OF RELEVANT MALAWI STANDARDS
To ensure that procuring and disposing entities are procuring goods that meet relevant mandatory or voluntary standards, they are encouraged to include a statement in the request for quotations (RFQs) or tender documents on the need for goods and services to meet requirements in relevant Malawi standards. In this respect, specifications cited in the RFQs or tender documents should refer to requirements in relevant Malawi Standards. Procuring and disposing entities are therefore encouraged to engage the MBS for advice on how this could be done.
DEVELOPMENT OF MALAWI STANDARDS
Realizing that the MBS may not have standards for some goods and services that may be supplied by MSMEs, we will endeavor to develop/adopt standards for such goods and services to ensure that we have standards for most of the products listed in the Second Schedule of the MSME Order. Producers or suppliers of goods and services are also encouraged to submit requests for development of relevant Malawi standards when these are required.
SKILLS DEVELOPMENT AND TECHNICAL SUPPORT TO MSMEs
The MBS will provide technical support to MSMEs to assist in solving specific standards compliance problems relating to goods or services, to ensure that goods and services meet relevant standards. The MBS will further undertake capacity building of MSMEs through training sessions to ensure that the MSMEs understand the contents of relevant standards, including the certification process, and how they can use the standards to ensure compliance of their goods and services.
For further information and clarifications, please write to the Director General, Malawi Bureau of Standards, P.O. Box 946, Blantyre, or by e-mail on email@example.com. You can also call Mrs Gertrude Mwakikunga on 0881 487 282 or 0995 113 369.
SYMON O. MANDALA