The Planning Commission (PC) is likely to submit the draft Public Procurement Act 2005 today (Sunday) to the Cabinet Division for its consideration amid pressure from a top donor agency.
"We may send the draft law to the Cabinet Division today," a senior official of the Implementation, Monitoring and Evaluation Division (IMED) said Saturday.
"We'll forward it to the cabinet following the approval from the finance and planning Minister. With a total of 79 clauses, the draft law is going to be a detailed one as desired by the World Bank," the official, who is involved in drafting the law, added.
The World Bank has asked the government to transform the Public Procurement Regulations 2003 into a detailed law as part of conditions set for getting a US$200 million budgetary support credit endorsed.
The government's foot-dragging on enacting the law has forced the global lender to suspend its disbursement of the third tranche of the Development Support Credit (DSC).
The IMED of the Planning Commission had submitted the draft law to the cabinet division in July this year, but the latter rejected it citing some shortcomings.
"Now the draft has been finalised. We've already had an inter-ministerial meeting to review the draft," the IMED official said. Such a meeting is a prerequisite to submit any draft law to the cabinet division, he added.
Sources concerned said the finance minister might face opposition from his cabinet colleagues, particularly young ones, in getting nod for the proposed Act.
Many businessman-turned ministers are contractors or suppliers who may resist the move fearing that the enactment of such a law would curb the scope for tempering with the tendering process, sources added.
Once enacted, the procurement law would help minimise graft involving the government purchase estimated at more than US$3.0 billion a year, financial analysts say.
It would also help revolutionise the way the government agencies procure goods and services in the coming days, they added.
But there remains certain scepticism about the possible outcome.
Neither the bilateral donors, nor the multilateral agencies have complied with the rules stipulated in the PPR 2003 in the past, a high official of the Economic Relations Division (ERD) said, questioning how could the government top brass expect that they would follow the new procurement rules.
Referring to the examples of China and Japan, the official said these two countries often tend to bypass even the international competitive bidding.
"The implementation of the law may face roadblocks in future as far as the bilateral donors are concerned. It may antagonise many countries," he feared.
The proposed law, which has a total of 79 clauses, makes it mandatory to publish advertisements in newspapers 21 days before the bidding, officials said, noting that such a provision might eliminate the current irregularities in tendering process.
An IMED official acknowledged that the unbridled corruption in public purchase and the massive irregularities in awarding contracts are the main reasons why the anti-graft body, Transparency International (TI), labeled Bangladesh as the most corrupt nation in the world for five consecutive years.
By various estimates, around 70 per cent of allocations under the development budget are being spent on the purchase of goods and services.
But it is alleged that a whopping chunk of the public purchase finds its way into the pockets of 'corrupt' commission agents, contractors, bureaucrats and political leaders.
Meanwhile, the government agencies concerned has decided to enact a detailed law in the wake of the rejection of the draft by the Cabinet Division for some shortcomings.
Many countries around the world, including France, Russia, Poland and the Philippines, framed such laws. But only the Philippines had made a detailed and comprehensive law.
The Central Procurement Technical Unit (CPTU) of the IMED with the financial and technical support from the WB has drafted the law.