In a big change from opting for tenders, soon government purchases would be done on the Government e-Marketplace (GeM), an end-to-end procurement system for the purchase of goods and services that are used commonly by government buyers. GeM—the establishment of which was mentioned by Arun Jaitley in his Budget Speech—could well be the mother of all marketplaces; it is expected to drive cost and operational efficiencies for the government.
Considering that commonly used items are estimated to account for close to 20% of the government’s non-plan expenditure, this could end up being a huge benefit.
The portal, that can only be accessed by the government, allows buyers to make direct purchases of as much as R50,000. Beyond that, it would be done by price comparison, bidding or reverse auction. Apart from bringing greater transparency in public procurement, it will enable small vendors to also work with the government.
Over time, it will be possible for different departments to synchronise their buying in a manner that the government can avail discounts on bulk purchases. Essentially, GeM will do to government purchasing what the Flipkart’s and the Snapdeal’s have been doing for the average Indian e-commerce consumer. Since transactions on the GeM are secure, there will be alerts at every stage—in the form of e-mails and SMSes—making the system all the more responsive. Since all details will be available online, it should reduce corruption, too. That fits in with the Digital India plan.