The Finance Ministry has entered into a much-delayed contract with Theekshana, the research and development unit of the University of Colombo, to design and implement an electronic Government procurement (e-GP) system to replace paper.
Sri Lanka is the only country in the South Asian region not to have an e-GP in place. Ministers sanctioned the setting up of such a system as far back as 2018. A working group comprising professionals was formed and its recommendations were also passed by Cabinet. The e-GP Secretariat was formed under the Department of Public Finance.
But progress was stymied for months after various Government stakeholders submitted negative observations. Final approval to sign the contract was granted just before the recent Presidential election. Once in place, public procurement could be carried out electronically.
The Asian Development Bank and the World Bank estimate that countries that employ e-GP could save about 25-35 percent of the total budget. This works out to around Rs. 21 billion, according to the Department of Public Finance.
An initial version developed with the Finance Ministry had ten modules. These are the registration of vendors and procurement entities, publication of procurement and information; digital market; floating of bids; uploading and downloading of bid documents; bid submission; bid opening; seeking clarification; appeal process; approval and contract awards; and contract management.
E-GP will lead to a more integrated approach to procurement across public sector agencies in various economic sectors, and minimise transaction costs. The process will be streamlined and automated, where appropriate, across agencies. There will be competition among suppliers and better use of human resources.
(Source: The Sunday Times)