Government clears Public Procurement Bill
New Delhi, Apr 12 2012, DHNS:
Legislation to regulate purchases costing Rs 50 lakh and above
The Union government on Thursday approved the Public Procurement Bill 2012 -- the last of the five legislations the United Progressive Alliance promised to introduce to combat corruption.
This, the UPA feels, would salvage its scam-tainted image ahead of the 2014 Lok Sabha polls. The Union Cabinet in a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh approved the Bill, which seeks to regulate procurement worth Rs 50 lakh and above by the Union government.
It envisages a strong framework of transparency and accountability through a public procurement portal and a system to redress grievances through an independent mechanism, which will be headed by a retired High Court judge. Human Resource Development Minister Kapil Sibal said on Thursday that the government would introduce the Bill in Parliament during the current Budget Session itself.
He said the Bill would create a statutory framework for public procurement, which would provide greater accountability, transparency and enforceability of the regulatory framework. It would cover procurements by ministries or departments of the Union Government, its attached or subordinate offices and Central public sector enterprises.
The Bill would also cover procurement by the autonomous and statutory bodies controlled by the Central Government and other procuring entities.
The objective of the Bill is to ensure “transparency, accountability and probity in the procurement process, fair and equitable treatment of bidders, promoting competition, enhancing efficiency and economy, safeguarding integrity in the procurement process and enhancing public confidence in public procurement”.
The Bill envisages a set of detailed rules, guidelines and model documents and builds on national and international experience and best practices. It codifies the fundamental principles governing procurement, essential for achieving economy, efficiency and quality as well as combating corruption and legally obligates procuring entities and their officials to comply with the principles. The Bill also provides mandatory provisions regarding key aspects of the procurement process and requires establishment of time frames for decision making.
The proposed legislation provides for adequate flexibility to take into account diversity of needs and types of procuring entities, types of procurement needs and methods of procurement.
The Lokpal Bill – the most debated among the five proposed legislations – was passed by the Lok Sabha during the Winter Session of Parliament. The Rajya Sabha, however, did not pass the Bill. The Government said that it would take up the Lokpal Bill in the RS in the current session of the Budget Session after it resumes on April 24 next following a three-week recess.
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