Why this authority

According to the sources in the planning ministry, one of the conditions for the loan of $ 4.7 billion provided by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) was taking initiative to ensure transparency in government procurement. As part of this, the law regarding the formation of these sorts of authorities is being legislated hastily. The condition for the disbursement of the last installment of $ 250 million under the Development Policy Credit of the World Bank is also another reason behind the rapid legislation of the law regarding the formation of the government procurement authority.

The works on developing the draft of the law in this regard in 2017 led by the then director general of the Central Procurement Technical Unit (CPTU), Faruque Hossain. The authority was scheduled to launch its operation in 2019. However, due to several complications, this wasn’t the case.

Speaking to Prothom Alo about this, former CPTU director general Faruque Hossain said, “The CPTU is a small unit under the planning ministry. An approval from the planning ministry is mandatory for all government works. Sometimes it takes so long to get the approval that the time limit for the government procurement through tender expires by the time the ministry gives the clearance. Therefore, an independent agency is needed to bring transparency and accountability in government procurement.”

Authority only for recommendations

At present, the 56 ministries and divisions spend more than Tk 2000 billion under the annual development plan (ADP). So to bring transparency and accountability in government procurement, the government procurement law was legislated in 2006. Later, the procurement rules were legislated in 2008 and the CPTU was formed.

Now, the Bangladesh Public Procurement Authority is being formed on a larger scale. The authority will closely monitor the issues regarding government procurement. The authority has been given additional power for this. The authority will have the power to call for any purchase related documents and tenders at any time. However, the biggest weakness of this government agency is that it will not be able to take any punitive action in case of any discrepancy in the procurement process. Its power will be limited to suggestions, recommendations and directives.

The draft law states if the authority observes any sort of noncompliance with the government procurement law and rules, it will recommend the buyer for changing or correcting the procurement process.

Nine authorities in 12 years

The government has formed nine authorities in the last 12 years. The Insurance Development and Regulatory Authority of Bangladesh that was formed in 2011. The Public Private Partnership Authority was formed in 2010. The Bangladesh Investment Development Authority (BIDA) was formed in 2016 dissolving the Investment board. There is still discontent among the users regarding the service of BIDA. Apart from this, the Bangladesh Economic Zone Authority was established in 2010.

Besides, the government has established several more authorities in the last 12 years, including the National Skills Development Authority, High-tech Park Authority, Payra Port Authority and the Sustainable and Renewable Energy Development Authority in the last 12 years. Although some of these authorities have seen success, most of these fail to achieve the target.