Samriddhi Foundation, on 20th of December, 2019, Friday organized a consultative meeting on ‘Review of Public Procurement Act, 2063’. The discussion was based on a policy brief which focused on identifying the issues and coming up with practical solutions to the many challenges that persists in the Public Procurement Act of Nepal.
Public procurement in Nepal continues to face numerous problems, majorly due to the pitfalls that persists in its legal provisions. These problems are persistent mainly because of the ambiguity, and inconsistencies in legal provisions, which presents an unclear and complex picture to both government officials and bidding agencies, encouraging them to be more process-oriented than result-oriented.
Thus, the brief highlighted issues of shortening the bidding time frame, streamlining the evaluation process, making government agencies accountable, enhancing the capacity of government officers, promoting small and medium-scale contractors, treating foreign bidders equally, enhancing transparency in the procurement process, revising the process of mobilization fee disbursement, and challenges that persists in public procurement due to the changed administrative structure (Federalism) in Nepal.
The consultation meeting experienced a vigorous discussion among the experts of the sector. Individuals from government agencies, former government employees, procurement consultants, private sector, contractor’s association and donor agencies were present at the discussion. The experts provided several constructive insights into the matter of public procurement and the changes that should be made in the act.
Some individuals, who have been heavily engaged in the procurement process of Nepal, expressed their discontent with the act and recommended the representatives from the government to terminate the act and introduce a new act which would be plausible for Nepal. They argued that the current act can be considered as obsolete as with advancement in many sectors, there are various kind of procurement the government has to make. However, if all kind of procurement contracts need to follow the same clauses mentioned in the act, the whole process of procurement will be inefficient.
Additionally, the contractors also articulated about the problems and challenges that they have been facing due to the clauses mentioned in the act. They complained that if the government will continue to award the lowest bidder, Nepal will never be able to experience quality infrastructures. It is unfair to the quality bidders and against the principles of competition. They also criticized the process of blacklisting the contractors, as many a times, the projects are not completed effectively due to problems in pre-design, survey, site clearance and monitoring of the project. Thus, they appealed for the government officers to be made more accountable.
Similarly, the participants including government officials themselves engaged heavily on the discourse related to enhancing the capacity of Public Procurement Management Office in Nepal. They argued that it has been imperative to train the officers regarding process of procurement, monitoring and on components of e-procurement.
Samridhhi Foundation was able to generate sufficient insight from the discussion. The feedbacks provided by the experts on the policy brief were very helpful. The event closed on a positive note, where all the stakeholders were enthusiastic about organizing a few more discourses on the subject and advocating for a new and more efficient public procurement act in Nepal.