Tendering online by PDB is a right move
BY introducing tender-bidding on online, the Power Development Board (PDB) blazing the trail for its rental power plants, the government has at last taken a right step towards freeing the tendering process from the curse of violence, manipulation and corruption. Though going online may not instantly present us with a smooth and hassle-free tendering procedure, it does at least indicate the most scientific method available to develop a less human-biased system of tendering.
The need for such a system with fewer points of human intervention cannot be overemphasised, given the fact that the government procurement process through tender is riddled with limitless corruption, highhandedness and violence. The types of irregularity, indiscipline and roguery that go with the traditional style of open tender bidding are simply unspeakable. A recent report on how the ruling party toughs in Comilla foiled the public health engineering department's attempt to receive offers from prospective bidders through pouring water in the tender box speaks volumes for that. And even such incidents are just the tip of the iceberg.
It is therefore easy to understand that the work orders for the jobs indicated in the tender hardly ever reach the right bidders. To avoid such consequences, the authorities sometimes resort to re-tendering of the works involved. But in most cases, those, too, prove to be futile exercises and a mere wastage of time and public money.
Such state of affairs has been prevailing in the government's public procurement regime for long. Even the latest move of the authorities to create multiple spots for the bidders to drop their tenders or sending their offers by mail, too, appears half-hearted in the face of the scale of the corruption and other vices that the public procurement regime has become a hotbed of.
Against such a bleak backdrop, the PDB's initiative to go digital in its tendering process is certainly a welcome move, if only for the reason that physical presence of the tendering officers and bidders would become redundant at least at the initial phase. But that in itself is no mean an achievement. So, it is time the government should also encourage its other public procurement bodies, which are susceptible to serious corruption and other irregularities, to go digital, that is online, in their tendering process in the first stage.
As indicated in the beginning, going online is not itself the last word about guaranteeing a corruption-and-trouble-free as well as a transparent public procurement system. Nonetheless, the automation will create quite a new environment in the procurement regime. The old style of corruption including violence-mongering will become ineffective in this new system. And that would go a long way in saving a lot of time, money, energy as well as avoiding wastage in the tendering process.