Thukten Zangpo 

The Methodology for Assessment of Procurement Systems (MAPS) version 2018 found that about 60 percent are fully compliant with Bhutan’s public procurement system. 

Of 207 criteria assessed, 124 were found fully compliant, 49 criteria or 24 percent of the total were substantive gaps (26 out of 49 were red-flagged). 

The internationally accepted MAPS assessment is first time in Bhutan which began in November 2021. It identifies areas requiring reforms and proposes effective implementation strategies in the public procurement system.

According to the World Bank, Bhutan’s gross domestic product (GDP) was USD 2.54 billion in 2021 and procurement expenditure constitutes 40 percent of government expenditure and 10 to 15 percent of GDP. 

MAPS methodology assesses the aspects of the procurement system which are value for money, fairness, transparency, and good governance using an approach based on analysis of four pillars.

The four pillars include the legal and policy framework, the institutional framework and management capacity, the operation of the system and competitiveness of the national market, and accountability, integrity and transparency of the procurement system.

During the validation workshop on assessment of the public procurement system using MAPS yesterday, the Finance Secretary, Leki Wangmo said that the assessment is in dire need to get the value for money and provide a procurement system in service of the people. 

She said that in the legal and regulatory aspects, compliance is fairly good but there are more practical issues in implementation. 

Red flags are an area of concern, Leki Wangmo said. However, it is also an opportunity to improve and make the public procurement system more resilient and user-friendly with limited resources. 

Some of the report’s recommendations include improving record keeping with a comprehensive list of procurement records and documents, document retention period, developing a sustainable public procurement policy, and timely payment of invoices to the private sector through an electronic government procurement (e-GP) system. 

In health sector procurement, the report recommended a need for specialised standard bidding documents or special conditions of contract for procurement. 

The assessment also recommended the government consider addressing resource and staffing constraints and inter-institutional efforts and coordination. 

At the same time, the Procurement Management and Development Division (PMDD) was asked to prepare a detailed action plan and the findings and recommendations of the assessment to inform the strategic planning process for reforms or system development by the government. 

The assessment was carried out by PMDD within the Department of Procurement and Properties under the finance ministry in collaboration with the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank.