Govt buying becomes swift and speedy

By: | Updated: August 19, 2016 2:06 PM

Government e-Marketplace aims to enhance transparency and efficiency in public procurement

According to an official estimate expenditure on commonly used office items ranges between 10% and 20% of the government’s non-plan expenditure, a figure which stands at Rs 14.28 lakh crore for fiscal year 2016-17.According to an official estimate expenditure on commonly used office items ranges between 10% and 20% of the government’s non-plan expenditure, a figure which stands at Rs 14.28 lakh crore for fiscal year 2016-17.

What comes to your mind when you think about government procurement? Possibly, inordinate delay. Because government procurement is ridden with significant delays in buying and payments, and often becomes tangled in red tape. Even the smallest of office requirement, at times, goes through tedious tender process. Now, in order to make this process smooth for both government officers and companies that supply goods and services to government departments, the ministry of industry and commerce has launched the Government e-Marketplace (GeM), an online end-to-end procurement system for purchase of common use goods and services by government buyers.

The newly launched platform sports an interface similar to modern e-commerce sites like Flipkart or Snapdeal and offers services, in addition to goods including the mass procurement of flowers, booking taxis and buying office appliances. R Karuppiah, ADG, Directorate General of Supplies and Disposals (DGS&D) told FE, “GeM relieves public offices from tedious and time consuming tendering process and thus cuts down on administrative and transaction costs. In addition, an aggregate demand from government offices, enables the government to use the power of bulk buying to cut a better deal with firms supplying laptops or air conditioners.”

The potential of the platform to save money can be made out from the sheer size of government’s procurement.
According to an official estimate expenditure on commonly used office items ranges between 10% and 20% of the government’s non-plan expenditure, a figure which stands at Rs 14.28 lakh crore for fiscal year 2016-17. That translates to potential purchases of Rs 1.4-2.8 lakh crore. This figure is more than what e-commerce portal like Flipkart or Amazon or Snapdeal has been trying to sell in 2016.

Basically, the proposal to reform government procurement with a technology driven platform was announced by finance minister Arun Jaitley in the last Budget speech and was presented by a committee of secretaries to PM Narendra Modi as one of the mechanisms to drive cost and operational efficiencies.

The online platform has been developed jointly by National e-Governance Division, ministry of electronics & IT and DGS&D, ministry of commerce. An officer familiar with the development said, the entire process flow designing has been done in house in order to bring greater transparency, speed and efficiency in public procurement.

“GeM enhances transparency, efficiency and speed in public procurement. It also provide the tools of e-bidding and reverse e-auction as well as demand aggregation to facilitate the government users to achieve the best value for the money,” said Karuppiah.

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