Younten Tshedup

Since the launch of the electronic government procurement (e-GP) system in June 2017, 4,683 tenders have been floated through the system amounting to over Nu 7.2 billion worth of contracts.

With the success of the first phase, the Department of National Properties (DNP) yesterday launched the second phase of the system with added enhancements and features to the online portal.

One major enhancements is the integration of six independent systems with the portal including the multi year rolling budget (MYRB) system of the Department of National Budget (DNB), RAMIS, Construction Development Board (CDB), Department of Civil Registration and Census, Royal Civil Service Commission and the economic affairs ministry’s online systems.

The integration means that the 127 procuring agencies registered with the e-GP system can now plan their annual procurements based on budget approved by the DNB. All government procurement activities including the approved budget are reflected on the DNB’s system, now integrated to the e-GP platform.

Similarly, online evaluation of bids has now been enabled on the system eliminating the tedious manual evaluation of tenders. The enhanced system also allows item-wise evaluation of bids.

The integration of CDB system with the e-GP is expected to further enable procuring agencies to link data from the CDB system such as bidder profile and also to evaluate works.

Procurement agencies can also check for tax clearance certificates with the Department of Revenue and Customs while validating bidding documents.

Officials at the launch yesterday, however, did not to provide further clarity and explanation on the system.

Finance Minister Namgay Tshering during the launch said that procurement system is an integral part of the governance where majority of the capital budget is allocated for the procurement of various goods and services.

However, he said that at present there are several challenges associated with the system mainly due to difference in interpretation of the procurement regulations. “The problem is not with the procurement rule. It is in the interpretation of these rules by respective agencies.”

With skepticism surrounding the procurement system, Lyonpo said that the e-GP online portal would iron out the ambiguities and ensure efficient implementation of government’s budget spent on procurement.

“I’m optimistic that this system would slowly eliminate the very persistent ambiguities among bidders suggesting that there is collusion in the procurement system,” the minister said.

He added that with the world now giving importance to physical distancing, online system such as this would ensure individual to work remotely and capitalise on the digital platforms. “The engine to drive the 21st economic roadmap should be digitisation and we cannot shy away from this. e-GP is an integral part of this digitisation.”

Currently, all the ministries, dzongkhags, thromdes, two drungkhags, nine regional offices and 34 autonomous agencies are using the online platform.

The system would be fully implemented across all government agencies in the 2020-2021 financial years. Once fully rolled out, all types of procurement would be carried out through the e-GP system.

Officials said that the e-GP system has resulted in significant savings in terms of cost and time while enhancing transparency and increased competition and standardisation of procurement practices.

The system so far has been developed by the DNP in collaboration with Dohatec New Media, Bangladesh. A local private company, New Edge Technologies Pvt. Ltd. also supported the project.

While the government funded the first phase of the system, World Bank has provided assistance for the second phase.