LAHORE - The Punjab government has issued the Punjab Procurement Regulatory Authority (PPRA) Amendment Ordinance 2015 to make the purchase procedure foolproof in the public sector agencies. The relevant rules have also been amended.

As quantum of procurement in public sector has created an opportunity for corruption in public procurement it was needed more strict laws in order to vitiate and minimise the chances of malpractices.

The new ordinance was issued to further beef-up the procurement system in the province and ensure transparency, said a Punjab government officer. The enforcement of new PPRA Law was required to achieve more transparent procurements ambitting all the public sector organisations down, said the officer adding as the Town Municipal Administrations are around the corner so clarity in the law was needed to ensure transparency on this level as well.

The parties practicing fraud on fake identities during process of bidding to sell their commodities could be blacklisted. Before the amended law, many a time it happened that the public agencies lost owing to ambiguity of the rules governing the procurement.

The government has made all such ambiguities more clear so that bidding parties could not exploit the public sector agencies.

After promulgation of the new law, the government agencies could punish the bidding firm involved in any type of corruption by cancelling the bidding process and pledging the security deposits.

However, the ordinance gives the affected party right to appeal before the MD PPRA and then the Chief Secretary finally. The MD may set aside the agency’s order, up hold it or reinforce the agency order by extending it to whole of the province by banning the agency’s products.

The new order has also exempted the government agencies to make procurements up to Rs one million provided they procure the goods from the public sector outlet. If the government did not like to apply the PPRA rules while executing procurement, it had to explain reasoning for the act on its website along with the official websites of the concerned agency and the PPRA for the sake of transparency.

The appointment of public sector officials, advertisements in newspapers, and appointment of arbitrators or government advocates have been exempted from the bidding process because the PPRA rules could not be applied while doing these acts.

As per the ordinance a bidder could not participate in the bidding process twice as earlier it was a common practice that the same bidder did the same. It was also made clear that the security deposit percentage will not be on the total purchase value but on the estimated cost to ensure privacy.

When contacted a PPRA official conditioning anonymity said offering, receiving or soliciting of anything to influence the action of a public official or the contractor in the procurement process, collusive practices among bidders to establish artificial bid prices were common.

The National Accountability Bureau (NAB), Anti-Corruption Establishment and departmental probe committees faced many issues where public sector agencies crossed the limits. The purchase of birds reportedly 200 times more than actual price by the Wildlife Department irked many accountability agency NAB and forced the government tighten the grip on the procurement process.