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Citizen engagement in public procurement ‘will need legal provision’: Participants at Rangpur workshop demand making procurement specifications public during implementation
Wednesday, July 20, 2016
The Central Procurement Technical Unit (CPTU), a government regulatory unit of the Implementation Monitoring and Evaluation Division, Ministry of Planning, on July 19, 2016 heard discussions, interactions and gathered points, demands and recommendations about the issue of citizen engagement in public procurement.
Director General of CPTU and Additional Secretary Md Faruque Hossain remained present all along with the participants of a workshop that brought together stakeholders from the government procuring entities, local administration, tenderers, media and civil society in northern Rangpur Division.
The CPTU organized the workshop on finding ways to engage citizens in the process of public procurement under the Public Procurement Reform Project-II with management and technical cooperation of the BRAC Institute of Governance and Development (BIGD) at the Begum Rokeya auditorium in RDRS Rangpur. The CPTU is implementing PPRP-II with support from the World Bank.
The DG, CPTU emphasized a good relationship between tenderers and procurement officers within the purview of legal provisions and specific contracts.
“Both tenderers and procurement officers are equal in the process. Tenderers are the implementing partners. All are responsible for their works they do,” he observed. Citizens also have the right to know how and where their money is spent. So, if all groups work with a sense of responsibility and professional ethics, citizen engagement can bring good results, he said.
“The audience that gathered here represent the stakeholders well as I see in Rangpur as the DC and I expect constructive suggestions about the subject today,” said Rahat Anwar, the Deputy Commissioner of Rangpur in his inaugural address at the workshop. About 90 participants attended it from 10am to 2:45pm.
The inauguration over, participants split into groups and worked on the questions provided to them for their discussions and making recommendations. Pervez, one of the tenderers, vehemently opposed the idea of forming citizens committee to monitor implementation of public procurement, saying such bodies will disturb project implementation.
Others who spoke, however, disagreed and they suggested checks and balances for such citizens committees.
Most of them observed that without a legal framework formation and functioning of the committees would not work well. At the same time disclosure and display of relevant information about each of the projects at the site will enable citizens know what are in the specifications and what are being done in the field.
They said citizens committee must be a responsible group and they need to be trained for knowledge and idea about what they are supposed to monitor.
It was commonly observed that citizen engagement cannot happen in all stages of procurement. It may be effective at implementation stage with careful selection of site and work-specific committees having required expertise, knowledge and good social reputation.
The BIGD under PPRP-II is piloting citizen engagement in four upazillas of Rangpur and Sirajganj districts. With the workshop done in Rangpur, a total of four such workshops were held in four divisions. It has prepared a strategy for monitoring by citizen committees in pilot areas. The recommendations of the divisional workshops will be shared at a national seminar in November.
Finally, those will be placed for government’s consideration through the high-level Public-Private Stakeholders Committee (PPSC). The Planning Minister is leading the 43-member PPSC.
 
     
   
   
 
 
     

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