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Remove unfair clauses for equal opportunity in public procurement

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The government should remove discriminatory tax structure for the local companies to ensure level playing field for all domestic and foreign firms in the public procurement process, said speakers at seminar on 12 May, Sunday. They came up with the observations at the seminar titled “Public Procurement Act-Challenges and Opportunities’ organized by International Business Forum of Bangladesh at its conference room in city.

Speaking as chief guest, State Minister for Planning Md Shahiduzzaman Sarker said the current government has introduced electronic government procurement to ensure transparency at the very primary level of procurement. “E-gp has turned the procurement process 180 degree,” he said adding that there are more ways to go in terms of transparency and accountability. The state minister said the country require people of high moral to ensure transparency and accountability. He also pledged to extend all-out support to take into cognizance of the recommendations, complaints and demand came up in the meeting from the stakeholders.

Speaking as designated discussants, Bangladesh Public Procurement Authority (BPPA) Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Mohammed Shoheler Rahman Chowdhury said they want to bring 100% procurement system in the country into E-gp system. He said BPPA has been identifying challenges of procurement and amending them continually. Mr Rahman also said they will bring down existing three-step complains resolution to one step to make redressing simpler.

In the programme, Former Lead Procurement Specialist of World Bank Dr Zafrul Islam presented keynote paper titled ‘Governance and Competitiveness in Public Procurement Practices: Bangladesh Context’. He said conflict of interest is a major concern in procurement processing in Bangladesh. “COI arises out of possible informal or undisclosed relationships between public officials and the contracting or consulting industry,” he said. Mr Islam said there are instances of public officials or their family members operate business that participate in same procurement process in the organization. He called the BPPA to consult with stakeholders before formulating any laws or rules.

Adviser to IBFB and former NBR Chairman Muammad Abdul Mazid recommended to bring reform in financial year to reduce waste in resource and time in implementing the construction projects. He stressed on the need of imposing equal tax to local and foreign companies instead of existing discriminatory tax structure to local firms.

Vice President of IBFB MS Siddiqui urged the government to impose uniform tax at all level including public imports. He stressed on the need of being competitiveness to sustain in the long run in procurement process.

Professor of Economics at Dhaka University Muhammad Shahadat Hossain Siddiquee urged the authority to ensure equity in the awarding process of the work.

Advisor to Bangladesh Association of Construction Industry (BACI) Engineer SM Khorshed Alam urged the government to abolish the clause of awarding the lowest bidder in public procurement process. He said capacity of the prospective awardee of the procurement should be considered instead of the amount of bid.

Former President of Manufacturer’s Association for Transformer and Switchgear (MATS) Engineer Rabiul Alam urged the government to remove discrepancies to local companies in project award process.

IBFB President Humayun Rashid delivered address of welcome at the seminar.

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