The use of electronic government procurement (e-GP) system would be made compulsory starting January next year after piloting it for the next six months.

During the launch yesterday, Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay said the e-GP has no excuse to fail.

“It has to succeed. If it fails it’s because the government failed as it is the largest procurer,” he said.

He said that there are 4,200 civil works contractor, 1,500 suppliers and 380 consultants. While the contractors and suppliers say that they do not know how to use e-GP, he said that he also does not know of any contractor who fills the tender forms on their own, or any supplier who completes the formalities on their own.

“They are already hiring the services of engineers and others who know,” he said.

“When people can use facebook, they should be able to use e-GP,” he said, adding that from 690,000 mobile subscribers, 23.2GB data in the last 24 hours were used for google and mostly for YouTube. About 12.2GB were used for facebook.

“But use of e-payment is still at infancy,” he said.

“We have no choice but to stay abreast with IT,” he said. The e-GP, Lyonchhen said, will have to incorporate e-payment, e-signature and make it robust with all the security features in addition to training all the users during the course of next six months.

A Bangladeshi software firm, Dohatec New Media, has won the contract to develop the e-GP at a cost of Nu 10.7 million in partnership with local IT firm New Edge Technology. The World Bank and Asian Development Bank have provided the support.

The Chairman of Dohatech New media, Luna Shamsuddoha, said e-GP is huge achievement in digital space.

“Bhutan truly have efficient and robust system,” she said. But the key to success, she said, is the political commitment and ownership from higher level.

“Noncompliance like delays in contract award, ineffective contract process and bidding practices, if any, will disappear,” she said, adding that the system allows monitoring and bringing about a tool for efficiency. “This portal will be one of the most used system in Bhutan.”

In case of Bangladesh, she said political commitment right from the Prime Minister brought rapid growth over past 12 month. From its inception till 2015, only 26,102 tenders were awarded. But after direct intervention from the Prime Minister, 102, 168 tenders worth USD 11B were awarded.

“I am confident that the government of Bhutan under the leadership of Lyonchhen will move ahead,” she said, adding that Dohatec will provide technical backstopping round the clock until it achieves the desired outcome.

She said that the crucial element hereon is capacity building and that this should continue from the beginning until all agencies are on board. “Public awareness is also important to implement the e-GP in all the dzongkhags, gewogs and drungkhag.”

The new e-GP will allow all the users to submitted their tender documents from anywhere around world. Dohatec chairman said that the system is highly secured in government data center in Thimphu.

However, all bidder and procurement agencies have to register to participate in the bidding process. In a way, the government’s annual procurement plan and entire life cycle will be made to follow. The entire procurement process until the signing will be done online.

Bidders will be able to avail the service and download the tender documents free of cost round the clock. The system will also ensure that the procuring agencies will have to strictly comply by its timeline. Chairman said that this will enhance citizen’s trust in the government. The fact that the system generates data, she said, would ensure that government could draw a realistic plan in future.

Finance secretary Nim Dorji said that the government spends 70 percent of the annual budget on procurement of works and services.

He said that in the last few years, procurement system has moved from a simple to very sophisticated system that is innovative and on real time basis.

He said often annual budget is underutilised because of the time constraints within the procuring agencies. He said that the new system would ensure transparency, efficiency and reduce corruption.

The e-GP, he said, is designed to make optimum use of the available resources.

The website was launched  yesterday.

Tshering Dorji