The prevention of 10 percent waste in public procurement could add 0.5 percentage point to the country's gross domestic product, Planning Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal said yesterday.
“Corruption in public procurement doesn't just eat up citizens' money. It also means that people's needs are not fairly and properly addressed.”
Kamal's comments came at the inauguration of the three-day South Asia Regional Public Procurement Conference in Dhaka.
The Central Procurement Technical Unit, a wing of the planning ministry, organised the conference in collaboration with the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank.
Public procurement heads, policymakers, procurement experts, contracting and consulting industry representatives, civil-society representatives and academics shared their knowledge and experiences of good practices that would enable all South Asian countries to enhance their public procurement performance.
The discussions centred around the theme 'Innovation for Sustainable Procurement Performance', with participants sharing experiences on procurement workforce, electronic government procurement (e-GP), reforming the procurement environment, and innovative tools and methods for performance enhancement.
Framework agreements, public-private partnerships, open data, strategic procurement and performance measurements were also covered.
Kamal reminded officials that public procurement means using taxpayers' money, so ensuring transparency, accountability and efficiency is vital.
A certified chartered accountant, Kamal said pricing, longevity and depreciation of goods are important factors that need to be studied before making any procurement.
There is no alternative to electronic procurement to reduce or avert wastage in public procurement, he said, adding that all procurement activities would be paperless soon.
State Minister for Finance and Planning MA Mannan said people have every right to know how their money is being spent. “We are going to full e-procurement system to ensure transparency and accountability,” he added.
Martin Rama, acting country director of the WB, said Bangladesh currently spends one-fourth of its budget in procurement.
So, ensuring accountability and transparency is a must in this case, he said, adding that Bangladesh has successfully digitised public procurement in four key government agencies that together spend more than half of the annual development budget.
Electronic government procurement is bringing substantial cost savings, eliminating paperwork, and increasing the pace of implementing development works, according to the WB acting country director.
Senior level participation in the conference demonstrates a high-level commitment to ensuring efficiency, transparency and accountability in public procurement, according to Rama.
Kazuhiko Higuchi, country director of the ADB, said the Manila-based lender will help Bangladesh get digitised in public procurement.
The conference is the third learning and networking event for public procurement professionals and is a follow-up to conferences held in Pakistan in 2014 and in Nepal in 2011.