Corruption in awarding tenders

The Nu 310 bn 12th plan has around Nu 116 bn worth of capital works to construct roads, bridges schools, hospitals etc. and all of them will be given out in the form of tenders.

There are procurement rules in place in the form of thick standard bidding documents and requirements to have various committees and other technical and financial features.

However, the above safeguards do not provide a safeguard against rampant and systemic corruption in the construction and procurement sector.

Corruption in procurement is not a new phenomenon, as in the past, the media had investigated and exposed massive and systemic corruption in the procurement of medical equipment and drugs in the Health Ministry involving senior MoH officials. This resulted in additional ACC and RAA investigations (only for a short period of procurement) and the system was revamped, but clearly the rot is there in a lot of other places.

Cases, no matter how old, must all be dug up and looked into so that the corrupt do not rest in peace.

In the field of construction, contractors and officials in the know talk of works being over estimated to get more funds, contractors being pre-selected through favorable clauses in tender documents and rival bids being ripped to shreds at the slightest pretext.

There is also talk of commissions being given at various levels to ensure that nobody talks and entire tender award committees are ‘fixed’.

This does not mean that every tender is suspect, but there are enough cases out there to be enough cause for alarm.

The cumulative losses for the state exchequer will be in the billions by the end of the 12th plan, and the quality of the infrastructure will also suffer.

It may not be a matter of coincidence that many roads fail with the first monsoon, black top come out after a few months, water schemes fail in villages, medical equipment is suspect and more.

The government can think of various innovations and the ACC and RAA can up their game, but as long as the attitude and culture does not change corruption will happen.

Ultimately, be it in the field of construction or other areas the question to ask is less a legal or procedural one and more a moral one.

The corruption of the best things gives rise to the worst.
David Hume

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