Finance minister Pranab Mukherjee has set up a public procurement cell to address corruption issues that have caused a great deal of embarrassment to the UPA.The cell will take up legislative and administrative matters to strengthen efficiency and enhance transparency. It will also take appropriate action to ensure fair and transparent procurement of goods and services, besides monitoring the procurement of pharmaceutical products.
The move follows the recommendation of a group of ministers (GoM) under Mukherjee, which had recommended strong monitoring of handling corruption. The GoM was set up on January 6 to consider and examine measures that could be taken to tackle corruption.
A committee under Vinod Dhall, former chief, Competition Commission of India, was set up to formulate a procurement policy and set rules for the estimated Rs 11 lakh crore annual spent by the government on public goods, services and projects. The process currently is considered opaque and filled with discrepancy.
“The finance ministry wants to ensure that a high level of fairness and efficiency is maintained in procuring all kinds of goods and services,” a senior finance ministry official told Hindustan Times on the condition of anonymity. “A portal would also be set up which would provide all details in a transparent manner.”
The newly set up cell would also study and examine all contracts to maintain a high standard in sync with best domestic and global practices while eliminating any possible discrepancy. The cell, which would be under the department of expenditure, would review the general financial rules for procurement from time to time, a source said.
“This would also help in maintaining demand supply balance while easing rising prices,” the official said.