Government plans new law enabling it to bypass public procurement process and pick developer for projects above Rs 50b without bidsThe government plans a new law that would enable it to bypass public procurement process and award projects worth Rs50 billion and above to developers through direct negotiation.
The government plans a new law that would enable it to bypass public procurement process and award projects worth Rs50 billion and above to developers through direct negotiation.
The law drafted by the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) to govern the construction of national priority project includes a controversial provision authorising the government to select developer for projects that would require investment of Rs50 billion or more without competitive bidding.
According to the draft bill prepared for national priority projects, the government can award projects to probable developer without competitive bidding under three conditions.
According to the draft accessed by the Post, the project may be awarded to a developer with direct negotiation in case no proposals are received during the public procurement process initiated by the authorities, when the project is based on a new concept and technology, and when the estimated cost of the project is Rs50 billion or more.
PMO officials confirmed their office is drafting a bill to govern the construction of national priority project though. However, they refused to comment on the content of the draft bill.
PMO Secretary Ramesh Dhakal said, “At present we are drafting the bill after receiving the Cabinet’s consent. We are yet to finalise entire provisions of the bill, so it is not appropriate to comment on its content.”
The Oli government has pushed the law arguing ‘it takes a lot of time to select the developer through global bidding process’. Once the draft is finalised, according to Dhakal, the PMO will forward it to the Ministry of Law as well as other ministries for consent before submitting it to the Cabinet for approval. Following the Cabinet’s approval, they would table the bill in the Parliament for final endorsement.
Experts criticised the government for moving the new law with controversial provisions. Although it is necessary to bring in a separate act to govern the national priority projects in order to expedite the construction, including the afore-mentioned provisions, it would promote rampant corruption.
National Planning Commission (NPC) former chairman Swarnim Wagle said, “The law should be introduced after including provisions that can address the existing bottlenecks that have plagued the development of priority projects instead of including provisions that could promote corruption.”
In April 2017, a committee led by then NPC Member Wagle had recommended the government to come up with a separate act to govern such projects by including five special provisions related to adequate funding, land acquisition, contract management, availability of nature-based construction material and personnel management and performance monitoring.
“Instead of addressing these issues, the government’s bill if endorsed with the aforementioned provisions would promote corruption on a grand scale,” said Wagle.