The National Information Commission has written to all the public entities and BK Koirala Institute of Health Sciences to ensure that all proceedings related to public procurement are transparent.

In response to a petition submitted by Anup Panthi of Kapilvastu to the NIC seeking its order to all the public entities and the BPKIHS to enhance their transparency as per Section 19 of the Right to Information Act, the constitutional body said government bodies were obliged to disclose the entire details related to public procurement proceedings and contract. Panthi had raised this issue after BPKIHS was recently marred with controversy related to the involvement of its office-bearers in corruption on the pretext of public procurement, said a press release issued by the NIC today.

Before issuing its order, the NIC had also discussed with the Public Procurement Monitoring Office under the Office of the Prime Minister and Council of Ministers whether it would be appropriate to write to the public entities and the BPKHS seeking maximum transparency in public procurement.

According to the NIC, there are the reports of corruption and financial irregularities committed by the responsible officials while awarding contract for procurement of goods, services and construction works. In 2020 alone, various public entities had invited bids for public procurement worth Rs 53.90 billion.

There will be chances of corruption and financial irregularities in such procurement without optimum transparency.

As per the NIC, the existing laws, including the Good Governance Management and Operation Act, Financial Procedures and Fiscal Responsibility Act and Public Procurement Act and Rules, require all the public entities deal with public procurement in a transparent way to prevent corruption. The NIC said it had written to the entities of the Nepal government through the OPMCM, to the provincial bodies through the concerned Office of the Chief Minister and Council of Ministers, to the local levels through the Ministry of the Federal Affairs and General Administration and to the BPKIHS through its vice-chancellor for transparency in public procurement proceedings.

The letter sent to the public entities and the BPKIHS had attached emphasis on five suggestions.

It says that they shall make public procurement proceedings ranging from invitation for bid to procurement contract transparent. They will have to make public their procurement-related activities on official websites for this purpose.

The NIC has also required public entities and the BPKIHS to incorporate the information of public procurement in their quarterly pro-active disclosure in accordance with Section 5 of the RTI Act. In the case of procurement related to construction work, they will have to display details such as the name of contractor, address, contract number, contract price, date of completion of construction work, construction activities, and inspection and monitoring agency in the construction site.

A version of this article appears in the print on August 30 2021, of The Himalayan Times.