The time has been speeding up. Advanced technology is the core requirement of modern world. In this age of technology no country can lag behind as it is now globally recognised that the right use of technology can reduce time and costs, thus removing the tangles in the delivery of services, particularly by the government. Bangladesh cannot stay behind and, the government has laid thrust on easy and quick delivery of public services.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina deserves appreciation for declaring her government’s vision for building a Digital Bangladesh by 2021. For achieving her target she also set some strategy, E-tendering among of them. E-tendering is a part of the electronic government procurement (e-GP).
The aim of building digital Bangladesh is not to create a digital divide. Rather, the government wants to provide services to both the urban and rural people by the means of ICT for improving their quality of life.
The declaration for building a Digital Bangladesh has infused a sense of awareness into the minds of the citizens about the necessity and importance of going digital. The actions of the government in making this happen need to be assessed over a substantial period of time.
Right to Information Act is now in place, ICT Policy and Act have been framed, e-commerce has been initiated, and various programs under the Access to Information (A2I) Project have been undertaken for establishing e-government. Some utility bills can now be paid through mobile phones. Public exam results, railway ticketing and some other services have gone online.
The objective of establishing e-government has to be materialised in the run-up to a Digital Bangladesh. On all fronts of governance there should be electronic operation to save time, reduce hassles and ensure transparency through widening access to public information. As part of that process, the government has initiated a process to introduce electronic-tendering in its public procurement system.
There is no denying the fact that the biggest hurdles to achieving the goal are the lack of infrastructure like electricity and connectivity, and capacity building. Power generation must increase and connectivity has to be raised at all costs.
In Bangladesh, about 75 per cent of the development budget is spent on procurement. The Public Procurement Act 2006 and the Public Procurement Rules 2008 are now in force to ensure transparency and accountability in the process of government purchase with the public funds, the source added.
The Central Procurement Technical Unit (CPTU) of the Implementation Monitoring and Evaluation Division under the Ministry of Planning has been working in line with the government plan to introduce e-tendering on a limited scale by the end of June, 2010.
Under the Public Procurement Reform Project-II (PPRP-II) supported by the World Bank, e-tendering would be introduced first in four target agencies — Local Government and Engineering Department (LGED), Roads and Highways Department (RHD), Bangladesh Water Development Board (BWDB) and Rural Electrification Board (REB).
Different procuring entities can send their tender notices both online and offline. When e-tendering will be in place, all such information and monitoring will be done online. And under the e-GP system, the whole cycle of procurement will be done electronically.
According to the opinion of Communications Minister Obaidul Quader the electronic tendering system (e-tendering) is an effective way to curb corruption in government procurement and ensure transparency and accountability. He said e-tendering should be conducted through the Internet and incorporate functionality for real time dynamic pricing and project management, which would enable prospective bidders to view opportunities, register expressions of interest, receive information and submit tender. Roads and Highways Department (RHD) introduced e-tendering system to enable the bidders (contractors) to submit their tender documents electronically from anywhere to get their desired award easily.
A total of 266 out of 300,000 bidders got themselves registered so far with the Electronic Government Procurement (e-GP) system as works are underway to introduce e-tendering process for expedited and transparent public procurement mechanism as part of the digitization campaign.
Officials of the planning ministry’s Central Procurement Technical Unit (CPTU) said four government departments under different ministries were selected for piloting the e-tendering process and 266 bidders so far expressed their interests to take part in the digitized procurement system.
CPTU officials said South Korea introduced the system seven years ago but was yet to run it in a centralized manner while several Indian states were partially running e-GP.
Earlier on June two last year, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina launched the e-GP portal www.eprocure.gov.bd, developed by CPTU under the Ministry of Planning and started the e-tendering process. CPTU already signed a memorandum of understanding with seven banks-Agrani, Janata, Sonali, Pubali, United Commercial Bank, National Bank and Bangladesh Krishi Bank-to facilitate payments for the tenders. More private banks contacted CPTU to join the process.
As the planning in the second phase, e-Contract Management System (e-CMS) is supposed to introduce covering complete Contract Management processes such as work plan submission, defining milestone, tracking and monitoring progress, generating reports, performing quality checks, generation of running bills, vendor rating and generation of completion certificate.
According to the Planning Ministry sources, the system has been developed in such a way that the electronic procurement can be introduced in all procuring entities, but first it has to be piloted.
Apart from introducing e-GP, the CPTU is implementing the PPRP-II to increase procurement capacity, improve procurement performance and raise greater awareness about the importance and outcomes of procurement among the stakeholders.
The objective of public procurement is to raise the quality of life of the people through creation of employment and improvement of the infrastructure. The hassles in dropping tenders have been a much talked about issue here. In the e-GP the bidders need not be physically present to submit their tenders to the PEs. They can submit tenders online from home. This will widen the opportunity for competition. The essence of public procurement is to ensure transparency, accountability, equal opportunity and fair competition. The PPR 2008 is a complete document for public procurement that provides scope for procurement under different methods, as per the necessity and situation, with permission from the appropriate authority.
Though after declaring the country to be digitized, e-tendering concept has been introduced. But there are some infrastructural problems like low internet connectivity and shortage of power for what e-tendering is not becoming explore largely. In the opinion the Post and Telecommunications Minister Razi Uddin Ahmed Razu recently said that over the last two years and three months tele-density in the country has increased to 45% from 32%, and the internet-density has increased to 7% from 3%.
The finance minister, finance minister Abul Maal Abdul Muhith said that we are not ready yet to use the e-tendering systems in full fledge because of some major infrastructural problem. Most of the tenders published from Road & Highways Department. All participants are not capable to use the e-tendering because of lack or knowledge of technology, shortage of power supply and low internet connectivity.
As a businessman we need Govt support to ensure the e-tending systems. Most of the time we are facing problem by cadder who are showing the force to get the work from different projects though they don’t have any experience. If e-tendering systems have been introduced, the experience, fair businessman will pariticipate in the tender. The tenderer aslo get original vendor to purchase the things. So Govt should take some steps to recover the things soonest because of to save time and cost, enhance competition and competitiveness, bring transparency and remove corruption in the process of procuring goods, works and services.
E-tendering & Bangladesh