Procurement body asks offices not to ask bidders for ‘irrelevant’ documents

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The Public Procurement Oversight Office (PPMO) has instructed government offices not to demand more documents from bidders than required by the rules. The PPMO made the request after stakeholders complained that the offices were demanding documents unrelated to the bidding process.

In posting a notice on September 6, the PPMO said the request was made on the same date through a clerk-level decision. He said the request for additional and unnecessary documents discouraged bidders and stifled competition.

According to the notice, the PPMO has received complaints that some government offices have ignored government procurement regulations and refused to recognize professional experience acquired by foreign bidders in their own country, recognizing only part of the work experience. prior work experience, ignoring the bidder criteria established by the PPMO itself and requiring irrelevant documents. She asked the offices concerned not to do anything by going beyond the rules, and to limit competition.

Various bidders have alleged that the Provincial Infrastructure Development Authority of Lumbini Province, in particular, has continued to subject bidders to provisions aimed at preventing more bidders from applying for a contract for the construction of a building for Lumbini Provincial Hospital.

After allegations that the Provincial Infrastructure Development Authority changed the tender conditions to favor some domestic contractors, the authority was forced to remove its tender notice first published February 20. Although the authority issued a new tender notice in June, it again faces similar charges.

Balibhadra Rana, provincial chairman of the Federation of Contractors Associations of Nepal (FCAN), filed a petition for an injunction in the Dang High Court, alleging corruption in the bidding process.

On August 10, the High Court issued an interim order ending the contractor selection process.

On September 6, the court upheld its stay order, arguing that the bidding criteria had been repeatedly changed to favor certain contractors.

“In particular, we are concerned about a new requirement in the tender form that any foreign joint venture partner participating in the tender must have worked in at least two foreign countries other than their home country,” Rana said. “This provision will prevent many foreign contractors from participating in the bidding process.”

According to Rana, the new tender document has reduced the financial criteria for the major joint venture partners, as they can now bid if they have completed work worth just $1.8 billion. rupees. “It is an attempt to keep some Nepalese entrepreneurs as main partners by lowering the financial criteria,” he added.

According to the opinion of the PPMO, it is against the rules and laws in force to require foreign bidders to have work experience in countries other than nationals.

“Not only in the case of Lumbini Provincial Hospital, we have also received complaints in bids for other projects,” said Krishna Raj Panta, Director of PPMO. “We have written to the Provincial Infrastructure Development Authority of Lumbini Province to change the provisions which contradict the rules and limit competition.”

Chhabiraj Pokhrel, the authority’s chief executive, however, defended the provisions of the application form by arguing that the authority was following the practice adopted by other state agencies, including road bureaus and the Authority. electricity nepalese.

“When we talk about the international experience of entrepreneurs, it should be about their experience gained in third countries other than the home country and that is not inappropriate,” Pokharel said. “This is not a new practice as in Nepal as well, various other government agencies are looking for contractors with similar foreign experiences.”

However, he said his office would respect the advice of the PPMO. “As there is a pending case, we cannot immediately implement the recommendations of the PPMO,” he added.

The Provincial Infrastructure Development Authority of Lumbini Province was forced to abandon the tender it launched on February 20 for the construction of the hospital after an intervention by the PPMO. The offer was abandoned on April 1.

The contract control office pointed out that the specifications of the first tender indicated collusion between officials and some contractors. Due to the allegedly bespoke criteria, only two companies participated in the bid, one from a joint venture involving Sharma and Company, and the other from Rasuwa Construction, which is owned by Mohan Acharya, a Nepali Congress leader.

The first tender, launched in February, limited contractors with no experience in building hospitals from submitted bids. But foreign contractors could participate in the tender in partnership with Nepalese contractors.

According to the tender notice, the main partner must have completed at least one contract for the construction of a government hospital having a double basement of at least 6,000 square meters in the last ten years, d worth at least 3,750,000,000 rupees.

In the case of a bid involving a foreign lead partner, the junior joint venture partner (a Nepalese company) must also have completed at least one government hospital construction contract with a double basement of at least 2000 meters squares over the past ten years. worth Rs 1,750,000,000, the tender notice reads.

In case the bidder is only a Nepali contractor, such firm must have constructed at least two hospital buildings (at least one single government hospital building with a double basement of 6,000 square meters) within the last ten years, with a total total value of Rs3,750,000,000 (excluding VAT), read the tender notice.

According to Pokhrel, the general manager, the Lumbini hospital which will be built within five years at a cost of Rs 6.37 billion will have about 400 beds with a block for the treatment of cancer patients and a research.

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