Experts call for effective development process

Govt should make information more easily available to combat corruption, experts say

News Desk February 14, 2019
Sustainable Development Policy. PHOTO: SDPI FACEBOOK PAGE

Public Procurement Regulatory Authority (PPRA) rules have a lot of shortcomings and lack comprehensiveness, therefore, these rules require a thorough revision for enhanced competition and improved development effectiveness.

There are some clauses in PPRA rules, such as rule 10, which prevents 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” organised by Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) on Wednesday in Islamabad.

Competition Commission of Pakistan Director General Ahmed Qadir said that one of the major goals of public procurement is to get a good value for the government, which can be ensured through vigorous competition.

He said annually, Pakistan is losing Rs1.38 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 for a holistic approach that includes all stakeholders, he added.

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SDPI Executive Director 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 programmes can enhance effectiveness of government spending, he added.

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Dr Ahmed said countries in the region have implemented the e-procurement system and electronic invoicing mechanism. Pakistan can learn from these experiences and save almost Rs1.5 trillion which is lost annually, among other reasons, because of corruption.

He said various forms of financial leakages can be curtailed if procurement information available with PPRA, Accountant General of Pakistan Revenues, NAB can be shared, integrated and made available for any government department, which is a buyer of goods and services.

The PTI 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.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 14th, 2019.

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