Bangladesh’s e-government procurement (e-GP) system has enabled cost savings of around $1.4bn per year by replacing paper tenders with an automated system.
The procurement lead time for all e-GP tenders has fallen from 100 days to 53 days in 2023, according to the World Bank, which said it had helped fund and implement the system.
Use of the system has led to about 7% savings in procurement costs compared with using manual paper-based procurement.
The government estimates the system has saved $1.4bn in 2023 compared with paper-based tendering. The new platform has been integrated with an online citizen portal (www.citizen.cptu.gov.bd) to monitor tenders and increase transparency around procurement.
According to the bank, the system has enabled about 1,300 public organisations to process all procurement activities and has attracted 103,250 suppliers so far.
“(This) has drastically reduced administrative costs for bidding while also eliminating the potential risk of coercive practices,” said the bank.
The e-GP system is set to enable international procurement, direct contracting, framework agreements, electronic contract management and payment and geo-tagging to be implemented during 2023-2024.
The bank quoted one supplier, Ahsan Habib, general manager of Connect BD, as saying: “Before the e-GP was introduced… we had to carry a huge amount of paperwork.
“It was a big hassle. On top of that, there were political muscle men who would try to prevent us from bidding. After e-GP was introduced, the process has become easy.”
Habib said training to use the e-GP system has been especially helpful for suppliers without IT backgrounds.
About 80% of Bangladesh’s public procurement expenditure was processed through the e-GP system in year 2022, compared with only 2% in 2017.
“Public procurement reform is extremely complex and hard to sustain due to the involvement of numerous stakeholders with diverse and sometimes conflicting interests and resistance to change,” added the bank.
“The process in Bangladesh required not only technical but also substantial political commitment and behavioural interventions.”
The bank’s International Development Association (IDA) has provided $95m to the third stage of the project – which was introduced in 2011.
Bangladesh is to create a new procurement agency to improve public purchasing.
In March, Bangladesh’s cabinet was sent a draft law to create Bangladesh Public Procurement Authority (BPPA), which will regulate public purchases.
The BPPA will be created out of the Central Procurement Technical Unit.
The move is part of conditions set by the World Bank.