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Posted on Dec 06, 07:10PM | IBNS
The investigations into the public procurement for the Commonwealth Games (CWG) had not found any fault wherever the agencies concerned like Central Public Works Department, Delhi Public Works Department (PWD) and Delhi Development Authority (DDA) had followed the time tested procedure laid down by the CPWD.
CPWD Director-general Rakesh Misra asserted this in his address to the Public Procurement Summit organized by the industry chamber The Associated Chambers of commerce and Industry of India here on Thursday.
However, Misra said: "The Indian public generally has a dim view of public procurement practices. These are regarded by many as a by-word for corruption, mismanagement, wasteful and uneconomic."
E-procurement would greatly reduce the element of discretion in awarding projects, he said.
Admitting that "few states and few departments of the central government" had adopted e-procurement, he endorsed the view that "systemic and procedural improvements in this area" were needed.
"The new Public Procurement Bill proposes basic reform of the whole area of public procurement, including the legal and regulatory framework, the institutional structure, the deployment of modern technology in aid of public procurement, as well as overhaul of certain specific prevailing practices," Misra pointed out.
At the same time he cautioned against laxity on the part of user agencies and suppliers in adhering to quality and construction standards that was also responsible for the public perception about the project construction of Government schemes.
He said that in addition to new technologies and procedures like e-procurement, "empowerment of the public at large through Right to Information has brought about a revolution of sorts. No more the government departments can work behind the cloak of secrecy".
"It has made it essential that all actions of department are transparent and self-speaking to demonstrate fairness."
Misra said "transparency in public procurement has always been the fundamental policy" in the working of his organization.
The launch of large and midsized projects in recent years had provided opportunity for international construction agencies to carry out such large projects here and contributed to the development of Indian capabilities through joint ventures in infrastructure projects, he said.
In its analysis of the Public Procurement Bill 2012 released at the conference, ASSOCHAM has highlighted the provisions that ensure that all future procurement would necessarily go through transparent procedures and well laid down conditions for awarding contracts, choice of contractors based on specific criteria of both lowest price and other requirements and strict provisions for avoiding corruption in any form.
Insisting on quality while evaluating lowest price in awarding tenders involved taking personal risk, according to Additional DG of Directorate General of Supplies and Disposals (DGS and D) R.P. Singh.
He told the conference that such risks were worth taking so long as the concerned official was clear of his objective.
Singh quoted several instances that he faced in getting approvals where insistence on quality had meant prices were higher but where lower price alone was insisted upon the resultant supply proved to be of poor quality.
The DGS and D was called upon to supply huge quantities of goods for various government departments.
He cautioned against users "succumbing to temptations" in procurement and "big and small companies" placing many a hurdle in taking decisions in the pre-tender stage. While Government could blacklist suppliers trying to influence decisions "blacklisting is not easy".
DGSD Rate contract "is a very good system provided buying departments insisted on quality too", he added.
NTPC chairman and managing director Arup Roy-Choudhury advised that decision makers in public procurement should put on record the reasons for their decisions to strengthen their case.
He also suggested pre-audit of tenders to make the process transparent. With many projects being presented for global supplies there was increasing pressure for transparency in decision making, he said.
Among other speakers at the conference were M. K. Bharadwaj, chairman of the expert committee of ASSOCHAM on government procurement and former president IIMM and D.S. Rawat, Secretary-General ASSOCHAM.
The chamber would be assisting government in building up a transparent and clean process of procurement said Rawat and called for suggestions in this regard from its corporate members.