M.P. Praveen

‘Government contracts to be transparent’

Tenders soon for project contract

Transparency Act to be introduced

KOCHI: Come December, and procurement of goods, services and works by the State government would be through an Information Technology-supported centralised platform, rooting out many prevalent unhealthy practices.

The Kerala State Information Technology Mission (KSITM) is set to introduce e-Government Procurement (e-GP), a project being supported by the Union Commerce Ministry.

“Transparency will be the biggest gain from implementing the system, as it would make accessible information regarding all government procurements,” Ajay Kumar, Secretary of the State Information Technology, told The Hindu on Thursday.

KSITM is about to invite tenders from interested agencies to develop software to support this system.

Significantly, KSITM is also looking at the prospects of developing the platform using free software. If that materialises, Kerala would be the first State perhaps in the world to have a project of this scale supported by free software, K.S. Anil Kumar, the State nodal officer for the project, told The Hindu. Kerala is among the three States selected by the Commerce Ministry for launching e-GP project on a pilot basis, Mr. Anil said. The other two States are Madhya Pradesh and Himachal Pradesh.

The project would be funded by the Centre with World Bank assistance.

In the first phase, the project would be launched in four departments — Public Works Department, Stationery Department, Kerala State Road Transport Corporation and Keltron, Dr. Kumar said.

In the second phase, Information Technology, Food and Civil Supplies, Motor Vehicles, Transport and Housing Departments would be covered by e-GP.

With the introduction of the project, tenders, contracts and other related works would be through a centralised portal, Mr. Anil Kumar said. “At an advanced stage of implementation, many of the chosen departments would turn paperless,” he said. To give the e-GP system more teeth, the government is considering bringing a Kerala Transparency Public Procurement Act.

The Hyderabad-based National Institute for Smart Government has been appointed to prepare a draft in this regard.

Saving time, cost effectiveness, elimination of unscrupulous intervention, equal opportunity for all vendors and ensuring a standard procurement system across all departments are some of the benefits of the system.