The FINANCIAL — Bangladesh today signed a $10 million additional financing agreement with the World Bank to expand and improve the government’s procurement system to ensure the effective use of public money and increase transparency.
The additional financing to the Public Procurement Reform II project will help set up a modern data center with 200 terra-byte storage capacity and a mirror site to replace an existing lower capacity data center. The new center will help the procurement system keep pace with growing demand from public procurement entities. With robust security features and 180 times more capacity, the new center will offer storage for 8.6 million tenders and support about 325,000 registered bidders, according to The World Bank Group.
“Bangladesh has made a gradual improvement in its public procurement system by shifting from traditional procurement practices to international standards through digitization. Results are visible in the economy, efficiency, and transparency of the system that ensures better value for money,” said Rajashree Paralkar, Acting World Bank Country Director for Bangladesh. “The additional financing will contribute to further strengthen the capacity of the procurement system and meet the growing demand of the procurement entities. This in turn will improve the country’s investment climate and accelerate the pace of poverty reduction.”
The financing will also continue to support professional certification and training on public procurement. The project has helped 89 officials to receive member status and professional diplomas at the Britain-based Chartered Institute of Procurement & Supply, while 84 have completed master’s degrees in procurement. The project has facilitated training on public procurement for about 2,700 participants, ensuring that over 85 percent of the four key procuring entities have at least one trained staff.
“The government has prioritized technology-based development of the country systems. The introduction of electronic government procurement, e-GP, in the recent years under a single national web portal has laid a good foundation of public procurement that regulates procurement, procurement laws and associated documentations. As a result, transaction cost went down and tender processing time has reduced from 51 days in 2012 to 29 days in 2015,”said Kazi Shofiqul Azam, Additional Secretary, Economic Relations Division, Government of Bangladesh. “Bangladesh has processed more than 55,000 government tenders online at a total value of about $5.8 billion and registered 21,000 bidders under e-GP system since 2012. This signifies that large key agencies are rapidly progressing with e-GP. With the additional financing, a data center with increased capacity will enable other public sector agencies to access the e-GP platform.”
Since 2011, the project rolled out electronic procurement and online performance monitoring systems in four public procuring entities covering transport, local government, water, and power that together spend about half the country’s annual development budget. This coverage is now increasing very fast with about 200 public sector organizations already registered in the system.
The agreement was signed by Kazi Shofiqul Azam and Rajashree Paralkar on behalf of the government and the World Bank, respectively, at the Economic Relations Division.
With this additional financing, the World Bank’s support to the project now stands at $68.10 million. The credits from the World Bank’s International Development Association, its grant to low-interest loan arm, have a 38-year term, including a six-year grace period, and a service charge of 0.75 percent.