WB unhappy over move to amend procurement rules in Bangladesh

The Daily Star, June 1, 2009

The World Bank has expressed concern over the government’s initiative to bring amendments to the Public Procurement Act and Public Procurement Rules, hinting that it could hamper WB assistance.

“A few of the proposed changes (Public Procurement Act/Rules) we have learnt about may have severe consequences on the implementation of a large number of Bank-financed operations,” WB Country Director Xian Zhu said in a letter to M Musharraf Hossain Bhuiyan, secretary of Economic Relations Division.

Copies of the letter dated May 25 were sent to Finance Minister AMA Muhith, Planning Minister AK Khandker and Prime Minister’s Adviser for finance and planning Dr Mashiur Rahman.

In the letter Zhu said, “Following our quick conversations this week on the above-mentioned topic, I would like to stress again that we are really concerned to hear that the Bangladesh Government is planning to introduce some important changes in the Public Procurement Act and related Public Procurement Rules (PPA/PPR).

“You are aware that this matter is important for all your Development Partners,” the WB country director said.

“We would suggest that you organise some consultations at your early convenience. If agreed, we would also suggest that you consider inviting some of the Development Partners to the requested discussions. This would allow us to get an understanding of the Bangladesh Government’s needs as well as an opportunity to review any available documentations on the subject,” he added.

After the present government came to power, an initiative was taken to amend the Public Procurement Act and Public Procurement Rules and a committee was formed with the secretary of Implementation, Monitoring and Evaluation Department of the planning ministry as its chief.

The committee after taking advice from secretaries of different ministries has prepared recommendations for the amendment. The finance minister has already held a number of meetings with other ministers on the recommendations.

The government wants to finalise the amendments before implementing the next fiscal year’s budget.

Sources in the finance and planning ministries said the government informed the donors in a number of meetings that the government was going to amend the PPA and PPR but the donors did not raise any objection.

Later, they came to know that some major articles of the PPA and PPR were going to be amended in order to award projects to people “close” to the government quarters instead of competitive bidders.

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