BSNL tender faces delay over complaint on procurement norms

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Published: April 24, 2020 1:40 AM

As per the tender, a bidder should have a minimum turnover of Rs 8,000 crore each in the last two years (2017-18 and 2018-19 in case of financial year and 2017 and 2018 in case of calendar year.

A copy of the letter has also been marked to telecom minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, the principal secretary, PMO and the BSNL/MTNL CMD.

It seems that BSNL’s Rs 11,000-crore 4G tender will be delayed as the government has received a complaint that the company has not followed the public procurement norms for giving preference to Make in India products while framing the eligibility criteria. As a result, the criteria seems to benefit global players and even leaves Indian manufacturers ineligible to apply.

As per sources, because of the complaint, the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) has put the procurement on hold till the time the grievance is disposed. The Telecom Equipment and Services Export Promotion Council (TEPC) has said BSNL has not followed the Public Procurement (Preference to Make in India) Order 2017. The order was notified in 2017 to promote manufacturing and promotion of goods and services in India. As per the order, purchase preference shall be given to local suppliers in all procurements undertaken by the government and its entities.

But TEPC said that the tender issued by BSNL has no reference to the government policy. “Even the eligibility conditions on turnover, subscriber base, countries etc are restrictive at present and appears to be structured in such a way that no India domestic telecom equipment manufacturer would be even eligible to apply for the tender,” TEPC said in a letter to telecom secretary Anshu Prakash. A copy of the letter has also been marked to telecom minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, the principal secretary, PMO and the BSNL/MTNL CMD.

As per the tender, a bidder should have a minimum turnover of Rs 8,000 crore each in the last two years (2017-18 and 2018-19 in case of financial year and 2017 and 2018 in case of calendar year). The TEPC has mentioned Clause 10(d) of the public procurement order, which gives power to the government to restrict or exclude bidders from a country, which has not allowed Indian suppliers to participate in their respective tenders. The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has written about the clause on February 19, 2020 to all state governments and PSUs to follow in their tenders.

“How BSNL and MTNL are ignoring Public Procurement (Make in India) Order of the government and tender floated has no provision for compliance…even Ministry’s memorandum dated February 19, 2020 on clause 10(d),” TEPC said.

TEPC has also raised concerns over the security of BSNL network, which predominantly meets the requirements of defence forces and other government communications. The TEPC has sought immediate action to revise the conditions of the tender.

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