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Today, government spends a significant portion of the budgets on procuring goods, services and infrastructure. Bhutan is no exception, its government being the largest buyer in the country, with public procurement accounted for 60-70 percent of the government budget or around 35 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2012/2013.
Integrating environmental and social consideration into these large volumes of public spending is a practical way to incrementally promote sustainable consumption and production in the country. Bhutan’s development goal is guided by the principle’s philosophy of GNH and it comprises of four pillars which includes the conservation of sustainable utilization and management of environment.
During the launch of the Green Public Procurement in Bhutan (GPP) Project, Ministry of Finance , Lyonpo Namgay Dorji said, with limited resources that we have, Bhutan as always give more priority and utmost important in preserving our pristine environment. Today in the eve of launching the GPP project marks yet another milestone in the development philosophy of GNH for the conservation of sustainable utilization and management of environment.
We hope it will be leading nation in the SAARC region and across the globe, demonstrate the success of GPP, Lyonpo added.
Lyonpo further added that, Ministry of Finance being the lead agency in procurement of the country, Lyonpo assures that all the necessary support will be provided to bring for the success of this project in the time to come ahead.
The project had nine work packages and it had broken down into twenty three activities.
Project Director for GPP Bhutan Project Mr. Kezang said, the package zero is more of establishing the project office which was done, package one is to do research collects market intelligent. So that we can take informed decision for designing the handbook, GPP guidelines, what appropriate training for public procurers as well as suppliers and will be doing training for both.
Right now, what is absent is while there is capacity building on the procurement officer side, there is limited capacity building on the supplier side. There are lots of misinterpretation in the procurement, interpretation of clauses in the procurement rules and regulation which is different from what supplier understand and among the supplier, they again interpreted differently because it is largely due to no capacity in terms of interpretation. So trying to bring all those common clauses to a common understanding where it will make their life easier for both supplier and the procurer, said the Project Director.
According to the press release, the GPP Bhutan Project aims to implement GPP practices in Bhutan, enabling the procurement cycle to be used as a driver of green growth by increasing the positive environmental, social and economic multipliers of public consumption, providing an incentive for sustainable production among suppliers, particularly cottage/ micro, small and medium enterprises (CSMEs); and build demand side and supply side capacities to write and respond to GPP tender.
“Implementing GPP practices into the public procurement cycle can provide strong signals for the market to provide more sustainable products at affordable prices and also encourage private consumption of sustainable products “the press release further stated.
Beside the GPP benefit, it also faces some challenges of integrating elements of GPP into the public procurement space in Bhutan. For instance, the challenges are: lack of explicit GPP legal, policy and regularity framework; lack of adequate knowledge and capacity; budgetary constraint in the immediate term and scare supply of green/ sustainable goods and services.
Meanwhile, the project was funded by the European Union’s EuropeAid SWITCH-Asia with the cost of Euro 2.1 millions, and it was technically launch on March 31st, 2014 among the implementing partners and participants government agencies and officially launch on 21st August of this month. The project consortium consists of five non-governmental organizations from Bhutan and abroad, namely International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD), Bhutan Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI), Collaborating Centre on Sustainable Consumption and Production (Germany), Royal Institute of Management (RIM) and Royal Society for Protection of Nature (RSPN, Bhutan).