Illicit money and Illicit power are badly influencing public procurement. The procuring entities are facing various challenges during implementation of projects, especially at field level. Absence of a proper monitoring system of public procurement is one of the reasons, for which Bangladesh cannot ensure proper implementation of projects and its quality.
These were some of the observations of the participants at the 12th meeting of Public Private Stakeholders' Committee (PPSC) under Public Procurement Reform Project II of Central Procurement Technical Unit (CPTU) under Ministry of Planning. The meeting was held on the 8th June 2017 at the NEC Conference Room, Planning Commission Campus in the capital, which was facilitated by BRAC Institute of Governance and Development (BIGD), BRAC University.
Team leader of the social accountability component of PPRP-II Dr. Mirza M Hassan presented the findings of the monitoring report of pilot projects completed in two districts - Rangpur and Sirajganj - by the citizens committees. He also proposed scaling up the project on a national level.
He said the citizens committees monitored the textbook print quality and distribution of text books in 28 schools in the two districts at the first day of the year. They also monitored 19 projects (11 road constructions and 8 school building constructions) in these areas where the committees failed to monitor two projects out of the 19 due to interference by socially and politically influential persons.
Beyond the engagement of the Citizen Committees, the project was also able to successfully mobilize local communities for monitoring projects which led to conceptual and strategic innovation of a Site Specific Citizen Monitoring idea which we plan to replicate nationally, he added.
Implementation Monitoring and Evaluation Division (IMED) Secretary in Charge Md. Mofizul Islam, who also presided over the meeting, said, most of the citizens do not know that their money is being spent in public procurement. Increasing people’s awareness regarding public procurement will reduce the influence of Illicit money and Illicit power. The monitoring only by IMED personnel is not enough, and the citizens should have a role in monitoring the development projects. He added that proper monitoring of public procurement is an important issue for successful implementation of the projects. The government wants to ensure cent per cent transparency and accountability in public procurement.
In response to a question on formation of Citizens Committee he said, “Citizens committees should be formed with those persons, whose morals and ethics are above question. We need citizens' monitoring in purchasing of goods also, as we want to get value for money."
CPTU Director General Md. Faruque Hossain said there are various challenges in monitoring of the public projects by citizens committees, as there is no legal provision in this regard. If the government finds third party monitoring beneficial, the relevant rules will be changed to give it a legal basis.
Dr. Sultan Hafeez Rahman, Executive Director, BIGD; Mr. A.N.M. Mustafizur Rahman, World Bank; Dr. Kazi Ali Toufique, Research Director, Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies (BIDS); Mr. Ahmed Najmul Hussain, Administrative Director, BRAC; Engr. S. M. Khorshed Alam, Director, Bangladesh Association of Construction Industry; Mr. Ziaur Rahman, General Secretary, Economic Reporters’ Forum also made their valuable remarks and participated in discussion at the meeting.
The Public-Private Stakeholders’ Committee (PPSC) has been formed under the auspices of the Public Procurement Reform Project-II (PPRP-II) with representatives from business community, think tanks, and civil society organizations along with government officials, to institutionalise external monitoring and citizen engagement in different stages of public procurement.