Public Procurement Regulatory Authority (PPRA) rules have a number of shortcomings and lack comprehensiveness that result in inefficiency, lack of competitiveness. This requires a thorough revision for enhance competition and improved development effectiveness.
These views were expressed in a panel discussion on “Open Data Systems for Development Effectiveness in Pakistan”, organized by Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) here on Wednesday. The participants were of the view that there were some clauses in PPRA rules, such as rule 10, which prevented open competition. Also, held they, at the federal and provincial levels, there is a need to bring greater efficiency and effectiveness in outlays of development budgets.
Director General, Competition Commission of Pakistan, Ahmed Qadir while taking part in discussion said one of the major goals of public procurement was to get good value for the government, which could be ensured through vigorous competition.
He said annually, Pakistan is losing PKR 1.38 trillion in its public procurement, which can be saved through effective and efficient procurement system.
For improved public procurement in Pakistan, there is a need of a holistic approach that includes all stakeholders, he added.
Joint Executive Director, SDPI, Dr. Vaqar Ahmed said that Pakistan needs to increase availability of free of cost information and data on national statistics, particularly, disaggregated government budgets, procurements, company registers, operations of state-owned enterprises, land ownership records and bank borrowing. Integrating these data sets will not only improve Pakistan’s rank in open data index, but also increase demand for using Right to Information law in Pakistan for accessing public information.
Dr Vaqar said Pakistan can learn from these experiences and save almost PKR 1.5 trillion which is lost annually, among other reasons, because of corruption.
He said various form of financial leakages can be curtailed if procurement information available with PPRA, Accountant General of Pakistan Revenues, National Accountability Bureau (NAB) can be shared, integrated and made available for any government department, which is byer of goods and services. PTI’s government’s goal of moving towards e-governance will also require improved understanding and use of data which is already collected and available with various public sector procurement bodies, he added.
Chief Information Technology (IT) and Tax Acceleration Growth and Regulation (TAGR), Syeda Adeela Bokhari, was of the view that the biggest challenge was to check and control kick-backs in the procurement process. She said that her organization is working on restructuring of PRAL (Pakistan Revenue Automation (Pvt.) Ltd) and moving towards integration of big data system. Asim Jalil, Deputy Director, Monitoring and Evaluation, Public Procurement Regulatory Authority (PPRA) said the big challenge is that the government don’t have procurement specialist to materialize the procurements in effective and efficient manner. Also, the government lacks infrastructure, where data of thousands of contractors can be maintain effectively. He said that there is a need to develop a mechanism where everyone including government institutions can be held accountable.