Experts call for revising PPRA rules for enhanced competition, improved development effectiveness

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Public Procurement Regulatory Authority (PPRA) rules have a lot of shortcomings and lack comprehensiveness which requires a thorough revision for enhance competition and improved development effectiveness. There are some clauses in PPRA rules, such as rule 10, which prevent open competition. Also, at federal and provincial levels, there is a need to bring greater efficiency and effectiveness in outlays of development budgets.

Experts express these views in a panel discussion on “Open Data Systems for Development Effectiveness in Pakistan”, organized by Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) here on Wednesday at Islamabad.

Director General, Competition Commission of Pakistan, Ahmed Qadir said that one of the major goals of public procurement is to get good value for the government, which can be ensured through vigorous competition. He said annually, Pakistan is losing PKR 1.38 trillion in its public procurement, which can be saved through effective and efficient procurement system. For improved public procurement in Pakistan, there is a need of a holistic approach that includes all stakeholders, he added.

Joint Executive Director, SDPI, Dr. Vaqar Ahmed said that Pakistan needs to increase availability of free of cost information and data on national statistics, particularly, disaggregated government budgets, procurements, company registers, operations of state-owned enterprises, land ownership records and bank borrowing. Integrating these data sets will not only improve Pakistan’s rank in open data index, but also increase demand for using Right to Information law in Pakistan for accessing public information. Big data and automation of income and wealth datasets can also help Federal Board of Revenues (FBR) in improving tax collection. Open data systems of public procurement and spending from federal public sector development programme and provincial annual development programs can enhance effectiveness of government spending, he added.

Dr Vaqar said countries in the region have implemented e-procurement system and electronic invoicing mechanism. Pakistan can learn from these experiences and save almost PKR 1.5 trillion which is lost annually, among other reasons, because of corruption. He said various form of financial leakages can be curtailed if procurement information available with PPRA, Accountant General of Pakistan Revenues, National Accountability Bureau (NAB) can be shared, integrated and made available for any government department, which is byer of goods and services. PTI’s government’s goal of moving towards e-governance will also require improved understanding and use of data which is already collected and available with various public sector procurement bodies, he added.

Chief Information Technology (IT) and Tax Acceleration Growth and Regulation (TAGR), Syeda Adeela Bokhari, said that the biggest challenge for us is to check and control kick-backs in the procurement process. She said that her organization is working on restructuring of PRAL (Pakistan Revenue Automation (Pvt.) Ltd) and moving towards integration of big data system. Asim Jalil, Deputy Director, Monitoring and Evaluation, Public Procurement Regulatory Authority (PPRA) said the big challenge is that the government don’t have procurement specialist to materialize the procurements in effective and efficient manner. Also, the government lacks infrastructure, where data of thousands of contractors can be maintain effectively. He said that there is a need to develop a mechanism where everyone including government institutions can be held accountable.

Rehan Hyder, Senior Procurement Specialist said for enhance citizen engagement and ensuring transparency in public procurements, all the public institutions need to open the data and also active disclosure of all tenders to public. He stressed the need for enhance advocacy and raising awareness among public on public procurements.  Asim Ghaffar Vice President, Resource and Development, LMK Resources Pakistan (Pvt) Ltd. said that in Pakistan we lack a dedicated authority which manages and maintain data for development effectiveness. He said that comprehensive data should be available to the public at large which can ensure transparency, accountability and encourage engagement. There is a need of holistic framework, where every institution needs to work together and evolve consensus for big data format, for which political ownership and commitment direly needed, he added.

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