Number of e-GP tenders crosses 4 lakh
The number of tenders invited online in Bangladesh has gone past four lakh in an indication of the country's race towards digitalisation.
This is a landmark achievement of the electronic government procurement (e-GP) system introduced by the Central Procurement Technical Unit (CPTU) of the Implementation Monitoring and Evaluation Division, according to a press release. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina rolled out the e-GP portal in 2011 as part of digitalising public services. Now, the total value of the tenders is Tk 410,000 crore.
E-GP is a web-based system, which encompasses the total procurement lifecycle and records all procurement activities. Its purpose is to maintain complete and up-to-date public procurement system activities of all public agencies as well as provide tender opportunities to all potential tenderers from Bangladesh and abroad.
In 2011, the online tendering was piloted in four large procuring agencies such as the Local Government Engineering Department, the Roads and Highways Department, the Bangladesh Water Development Board and the Bangladesh Rural Electrification Board.
Building on the success of piloting, the CPTU started implementing the e-GP across the government procuring agencies from 2012.
Currently, there are 1,365 procuring agencies in the country. As of yesterday, 1,343 agencies registered with the e-GP system. The number of tenderers registered with e-GP stood at 74,395.
Both procuring agencies and tenderers embraced the ICT-based digital procurement system as it has reduced physical hassles. It also saves time and costs, the press release said.
In Bangladesh, about 80 per cent of the annual development programme and 45 per cent of the national budget is spent on public procurement.
"Bangladesh has made concerted efforts for nearly a decade to systemically improve its public procurement system," the World Bank said in a document in April.
The Washington-based lender has supported the government to put in place the e-GP.
The country now has 60 national certified procurement trainers and 37,000 officials have been trained in procurement and the use of e-GP.
A key transparency measure is a publication of 100 per cent of procurement notices and contract award information, the WB said.
Procurement lead time (from invitation to contract signing) for all tenders decreased by 28 per cent, from 86.7 days in the fiscal year 2011-12 to 62.2 days in FY2018-19.
A 2017 study by Wahid Abdallah, then a research fellow at the Brac Institute of Governance and Development, showed that the e-GP holds enormous potential benefits for the country. Each Tk 1 spent on such efforts will do a phenomenal Tk 663 of good, the study found.
The CPTU is developing and implementing the e-GP system. Besides, it operates a widely used, freely accessible, and regularly updated website providing procurement-related information, including policy and functional documents and standard tender documents.
Furthermore, there is a functional four-tier appeals system for aggrieved bidders comprising administrative review and a quasi-judicial review panel whose decisions are final and binding, except if overturned by the High Court.
The CPTU is also implementing citizen engagement in contract implementation monitoring.
A citizen portal has been developed and soft-launched to disseminate procurement and contract management data following the Open Contracting Data Standard. The portal has facilities for data analytics based on key performance indicators.
The country is currently implementing the third WB-supported procurement reform operation. The interventions have included: comprehensive procurement capacity development, implementation of e-GP system and digitalised contract performance monitoring with citizen engagement, among others.