Bribery tag on procurement managers 'unfair'

Issue discussed at Hotelier Middle East Procurement Summit

The issue of bribery was discussed at the Hotelier Middle East Procurement Summit
The issue of bribery was discussed at the Hotelier Middle East Procurement Summit

Suggestions that bribery is rife among procurement managers in hotels is unfair, with professionals calling for more attention to be paid to the actions of suppliers and other hotel staff.

The issue came up in a panel session at last week’s Hotelier Middle East Procurement Summit, which took place at The Ritz-Carlton DIFC in Dubai on November 4.

Moderated by InterContinental Dubai Marina Director of Procurement Pushpa Nair, the session looked at business ethics and best practice in purchasing.

Fairmont Dubai purchasing manager Jean Manuel said: “In each [hotel] there should be a strong policy on bribery. And it should not only be for procurement. It should be for all the organisation because it is always implied on procurement, which is really very unfair, because it should be everybody.”

Nair had begun discussing the issue by citing a survey of suppliers by Hotelier Middle East earlier this year, in which 55% said they had been asked to offer a monetary bribe, while 72.6% said they knew of other supply firms that were using bribes.

Speaking from the audience, Jumeirah at Etihad Towers director of finance Stephanie Timsit shone the spotlight on suppliers, questioning why they felt that had to resort to bribery.

“Why do we need to have, in our market, a bribe system? You [suppliers] should be strong enough to tell the purchasing manager, or chef, to tell them ‘Sorry, I think it is unethical’.”

Provident Solutions managing partner Wissam El Cheikh Hassan, also speaking from the audience, insisted everyone in the industry – from both hotels and suppliers – had “horror stories” about bribery, either through first-hand experience or relayed from their peers.

“I have never seen an example – apart from one – where someone is fired [for bribery],” he added. “The best way to get rid of this problem is to make an example of someone.”

In the same session, some of the expert panellists also shared best practices to ensure fairness in the procurement process.

“We don’t allow any supplier anywhere near the hotel,” said Damac Hotels Management director of procurement – hospitality, Ajaz Wani.

“I have no one in procurement sitting in the hotel. So all the interaction has to be with someone sitting in the corporate office.”

HotelEquip Consultants International Head of Delivery Sarry Jouzy detailed how suppliers should have to meet pre-qualification criteria in order to do business with the hotel.

“If the supplier can demonstrate that actually they are capable, then we will add them to a pre-qualified list. And if I issued a tender or quote request to three suppliers, or five, it doesn’t make too much difference to me. So we encourage suppliers.

“Our job is to always make we have competitive procurement, and to also make sure there is transparency. We invest a lot of time in giving suppliers feedback afterwards. That’s really important to try and engender fairness and make supplies feel like this is a company that, if they stay and work hard enough at, they have a chance.”

The event attracted more than 90 delegates and was sponsored by by Associate Sponsor A. Ronai, Official Water Sponsor Horeca/ Aqua Panna & San Pellegrino and exhibitors Pulsar Foodstuff Trading/Gourmet Olive Market, Lavazza/Eurocoffee, Ruud Lighting, Unique Precise and Sun & Shades.

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