The electronic system is expected to be fully functional by 2020

Advertising: The already struggling media industry is likely to see a drop in advertising revenue once the  electronic government procurement (e-GP) is in place.

The e-GP is being developed to bring the government’s procurement process online, which means tenders and other kinds of advertisements will be published on a central website.

The government recently awarded the e-GP contract for development.

The e-GP is tentatively expected to be fully functional from 2020. It is being introduced in phases with the first phase expected to be completed in four months.

It is not yet determined if all government advertisements, which also include public announcements besides tenders, will move onto the e-GP.

“At the moment, it is not certain whether the tenders will be published in media or not with e-GP in place,” said the finance ministry’s spokesperson, Rinzin Dorji. “However, this will definitely reduce tenders being published in media.”

According to a report published by the information and media department last year, between 85-95 percent of total revenue is generated by government advertising for private newspapers in Bhutan.

The report also points out that the government reported spending Nu 43.8 million on advertising in fiscal 2013-2014, including all forms of media, including print, TV and radio.

From a wider perspective, the e-GP system is being introduced to bring about efficiency and transparency to a sector that is worth an average of Nu 13 billion annually.

The current system has been subjected to much criticism and allegations of corruption involving nepotism, favouritism, misuse of public funds, bribery and kickbacks, collusion, bid rigging, have been made.

The total cost being incurred for the development of the e-GP is around Nu 24 million or USD 395,690. The first phase is worth USD 159,562, the second USD 76,788, and the third is USD 159,340.

“The e-GP system is very much part of good governance in public procurement with the establishment of a unified national procurement framework and institutionalizing the procurement management capacity to ensure economy, efficiency, transparency, fairness and better value for money,” Rinzin Dorji said.

He explained that the e-GP system will have significant implications on cost savings as well as revenue generation. He said that costs would be saved on preparing tender documents, bid openings, and advertising, while revenue would be generated through registration and tendering. Only bidders who wish to participate will be charged a nominal fee, he said.

The e-GP is also expected to provide the government with accurate data on the number of tenders floated annually and their total financial worth. Currently, such data is lacking.

“A comprehensive data is not available with us,” Rinzin Dorji said. “Tenders are floated by the concerned agencies and the information is with them,” he added. “Once e-GP is in full implementation, all this information will be captured automatically.”

The e-GP system will have the capacity to handle 3,000 procurements and 15,000 bids a year.

Gyalsten K Dorji