Sri Lanka govt urged to lift restrictions on electronic bidding
ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s government has been urged to lift restrictions on electronic bidding, accept e-signatures and mandate online publication of procurement plans in an effort to introduce electronic procurement.
Electronic government procurement could improve efficiency, cut costs and reduce corruption in Sri Lankan government procurement, according to Verité Research, a think-tank.
“E-procurement offers the government major cost savings, higher value for money and better fiscal management,” it said in a new report. “By making procurement more efficient, cost-effective and competitive, e-procurement can create a stronger procurement marketplace and better investment of government resources”
Verité Research said that public procurement in Sri Lanka currently suffers from three main weaknesses.
They are unfair or corrupt practices, difficulty in accessing information on procurement such as tender opportunities and contract awards, and high transaction costs on businesses and government agencies imposed by manual bidding.
“Sri Lanka’s procurement marketplace has featured anti-competitive practices that lead to corruption; for instance, the practice of accepting unsolicited proposals for large, high value projects that circumvent the process stipulated by the government’s Procurement Guidelines,” the report said. “In the absence of strong institutional safeguards against such practices, public procurement has offered fertile grounds for corruption,” Verité Research said.
It recommended amending procurement guidelines to enable and facilitate electronic government procurement, known as E-GP.
These included removing prohibitions of electronic bid submission, and mandating electronic publication of annual procurement plans, selection criteria, the composition of Procurement Committees and Technical Evaluation Committees, revisions to tender notices, and contracts awarded.
Verité Research also recommended mandating the transition to E-GP within a stipulated period and recognising e-signatures for public procurement transactions.
It suggested developing an E-GP policy and hiring a third party with necessary skills and expertise to run the country’s E-GP system, given weaknesses in the National Procurement Commission.
(COLOMBO, May 19, 2017)