‘Transparency must in procurement policy’
Focus on evolving a framework to weed out various forms of corruption in public procurement
PATNA: Vigilance department principal secretary Ashok Kumar Chauhan on Saturday said that in wake of Bihar’s zero tolerance policy towards corruption, a viable low cost strategy was required to ensure integrity in public procurements.
He said, it is here that the Integrity Pact (IP), developed by Transparency International, could be introduced as an effective tool in the proposed procurement policy to cut down corruption in government purchases.
Speaking at a group discussion on ‘Enhancing Frameworks for Transparent Frameworks for transparent public Procurement: Integrity Pact’, Chauhan said, “Corruption is a multi-faceted and complex socioeconomic problem. It requires a sustainable, durable and multidisciplinary framework to deal with public procurement issues.”
With government being the largest procurer, it is important to ensure that instances like the fodder scam (essentially related to procurement) do not take place. “We will try to convince departments to adopt the IP and modernise procurement laws, using electronic principles to introduce transparency, fight collusion, prevent bid rigging, cartelisation and eliminate discretionary powers from the process,” he said.
Chauhan said, in a court of law it often becomes difficult to prove complicity and also pinpoint what had gone wrong in procurement, one reason why the fodder scam is still dragging on. “Till now we have been dealing with the demand side of corruption not the supply side (why money is being offered at all). “While the Centre is seized with tackling the supply side of corruption, IP can be useful, as it is binding on the procurer and bidders,” he said.
Chairman of Bihar Electricity Regulatory Commission, UN Panjiar, said IP provides a level of comfort to the procurer and vendor, improves the image of the institution, reduces false and frivolous complaints and improves competitiveness. But while ministry of defence and 44 central PSUs have adopted it, state government PSUs are lagging behind. State departments should include them in their procurement manual, he said.
“I belong to the electricity sector, which is also one of the largest procurers of equipment and spares. It is important to introduce IP, which, in turn, will help consumers to get power at lower tariffs,” he explained.
Principal secretary, health Vyasji said, his department, which was into procuring services, faced the problem of how to evaluate goods and services from the user point of view. “With the problem related to quality and delivery of services at the right price, the question is how to ensure that IP works in favour of people,” he said.
PS Bawa, chairman, Transparency International India, while responding to the suggestion for its introduction in the private sector, said “We are trying to rope them in. We will amend it slightly to tailor the suitability of IP for them.” Till then, Bihar should take a pioneering step in adopting it and set an example for other states, he said.
Ashutosh Kumar Mishra, director, TII, gave a detailed presentation and replied to the queries raised by the participants.
(From left) Vigilance dept principal secretary AK Chauhan, TII chairman PS Bawa and BERC chairman UN Panjiar at a meeting, in Patna on Saturday.