Union Minister Nirmala Sitharaman today dismissed Congress allegations about corruption in the government e-marketplace (GeM) portal saying they are “false, baseless, motivated and malafide”. The allegations of corruption, she said, “appear to be a handiwork of certain interested groups who are badly hit owing to discontinuation of rate contracts… It is unfortunate that the Congress party is supporting an opaque system and is against transparency in public procurement”.
She was responding to allegations made by Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala. He had last week alleged corruption in the government’s e-marketplace portal. He had also urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to order a probe after eight BJP MPs, including a minister, complained of a “major scam”.
He had also stated that the charges of corruption have been levelled not by the Opposition but by the BJP MPs including Union Minister Faggan Singh Kulhaste in a letter to Sitharaman. Responding to these charges, Sitharaman said that on inquiry it was found that the two letters were forged, while the other letters of MPs favoured continuation of rate contracts of certain products.
None of those letters “talked about corruption or malpractices,” she said, adding that e-marketplace has been designed to improve transparency in procurement of goods and services from government departments and PSUs.
She said she regretted that Congress has levelled the allegation of corruption in ” a hurry and without doing any homework”.
The Commerce Ministry last year launched the GeM for online purchase of goods and services by various central government ministries and departments. The move is aimed at bringing in more transparency and streamlining government procurement, estimated at Rs 10,000 crore a year.