If the procurement is important for the nation and takes a decade to procure, it lands in a mess and then it becomes a dirty linen to be washed in public, for all times to come. This has not been with one procurement or the other, our procurement history is replete with such instances. It is beyond governments, times, nature of procurement and technology used for the same. If you are able to manage our procurements, we will never achieve our plans, deliver, upgrade and make things happen. The vast gamut of procurements is there in every arena, where there is money, there is procurement. This is in the very nature of our existence and for sure we have to be able to create a system above board. This put everything under the lens and diverts, human resources, effort and focus from where it is actually required.
Is it so difficult? Or have we never picked up the skills? Does our process or the procedure allow for such loopholes? Or is there another angle to the procurements, which keeps on cropping up every now and then? Or do we have the will to make that effort to make it happen? Have we as a state failed to ensure transparency? Or there are innumerable instances of fence eating the crop? Is the present procurement mess or call it mayhem because of one of these factors, or different permutations and combinations depending on the ecosystem, in which the procurement happens. The most important question is whether the procurements are happening as per a blueprint or a long term plan or is it each to his whims and fancy.
The strict technical blueprint based on strict requirements based on research adds an element of checks and balances to start with. It is not left to anyone’s imagination to procure what one feels like and create a rationale behind it. From telecom spectrum to coal to jet fighters to guns, it seems to be an unending sordid saga of procurement. The investigation most of the time gets embroiled itself and finally brings the dirty deal to a level that brings the country into disrepute. Suffice to say, in most areas procurements have come in the way of our development process. Leave the complicated purchases aside, we have no method of standard pricing for procurement.
If we see the delay in projects based on the tender process preceding it, has always its own story. The technical specifications, pricing and inordinate delay in the procurement process for a variety of reasons and then the insurmountable execution process with the known evils, but who is ready to tackle. If the owner does not know the product, technical specifications, utility and pricing, possibly in the given governmental ecosystem, who will come to their rescue? White topping of the road to mineral water, there can be a different price depending on the one who tenders and ones who get it. The nuances of public procurement has to be understood before even thinking of tinkering with it. Unfortunately, in a democracy, the easiest thing is winning elections. Beyond it, governance becomes an uphill task.
PROCUREMENT MAYHEM HAS A CHILLING IMPACT ON GOVERNANCE AND DEVELOPMENT.