Public procurement is a method utilised by governments to deliver important social and economic goods to citizens. The Sri Lankan government spent approximately 597 billion through public procurement in 2015, which is about 26 percent of total Government expenditure. However, the public procurement process in Sri Lanka suffers from inefficiencies. Thus, introducing an efficient procurement system will empower businesses and reduce wastage in public funds.

Verité Research, an independent multi-disciplinary think tank providing strategic analysis and advice to decision-makers and opinion-formers in Asia, recently conducted a study to on issues in public procurement in Sri Lanka.

According to the study, three primary issues in the country’s procurement system was identified. Firstly, it was found out that there are difficulties in accessing information related to procurement, such as tender opportunities and contract awards.

Secondly, the bidding system imposed high transaction costs on businesses and government agencies, including costs associated with preparing and submitting bids. The manual administration of procurement was time-consuming and cumbersome for government agencies.

Thirdly, Sri Lanka’s procurement marketplace has featured anti-competitive practices that have led to increased corruption. For instance, the practice of accepting unsolicited proposals for large, high value projects that circumvent the process stipulated by the Government’s Procurement Guidelines, and altering specifications to suit the supplier.

Several countries have set up e-procurement platforms to streamline government procurement. E-procurement involves the use of electronic systems to handle any or all steps of the procurement process, from online publication of tender notices, supplier registration and e-submission of bids. It results in cost savings both for Government entities and suppliers.

E-procurement increases fairness in the procurement marketplace. By making bids and procurement information widely accessible, more suppliers are able to participate in public procurement.

Introducing an e-procurement platform can significantly enhance the transparency, fairness and efficiency of Sri Lanka’s public procurement marketplace. It will ensure an enabled operating environment for suppliers.