For the first time, state governments\u2019 procurement of commonly-used goods and services through the Government e-Marketplace (GeM) portal has exceeded that of the Centre, suggesting their increasing reliance on the platform. According to the latest official data, purchases by various states via GeM touched Rs 9,209 crore in 2018-19 against Rs 7,947 crore by the Central government. States such as Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh are among the largest buyers on the GeM platform.However, at 9.03 lakh, the number of orders placed by the Central government was higher than that of state governments (3.93 lakh) in 2018-19, suggesting that states ordered more high-value items. Enthused by the response, GeM is now aiming to catalyse public procurement worth `50,000 crore (in terms of value of transactions) through its platform in 2019-20 against `17,325 crore in 2018-19 and `5,885 crore in the previous fiscal.The products and services available on the GeM platform are typically commonly-used ones that various Central government ministries and departments used to purchase through the erstwhile Directorate General of Supplies and Disposals (DGS&D), before the 100-year-old government procurement arm was wound up. READ ALSO |\u00a0How people are evading GST with novel methods GeM was set up in August 2016 to improve transparency as well as efficiency of the public procurement system. The Centre has now made it mandatory to buy such items through GeM for its various departments. Though its current mandate is to act as a platform to facilitate purchases of commonly-used goods and services for Central and state governments, CPSEs and state PSUs, it\u2019s considering gradually graduating to a platform through which large PSUs can also order specialised items worth thousands of crores, should the centre allow it. The total purchases by both the Central government and CPSUs are estimated to be around `2 lakh crore a year. Separately, the commerce ministry on Monday said the number of sellers on GeM doubled in the last fiscal. It said over two lakh sellers are offering more than eight lakh products on this platform. It added that training of over 1.3 lakh buyers and sellers has been conducted across 28 states and Union Territories to enable them operate the platform seamlessly. \u201cMoUs have been signed with 12 banks for payment integration to facilitate a cashless and paperless payment system on the platform,\u201d the ministry said.