E-procurement: an opportunity for fair competition

E-procurement: an opportunity for fair competition

According to the Vietnam National e-Procurement Centre, in the first six months of 2018, the number of e-bidding packages have reached 6,100, nearly doubling against the 3,300 packages in the first half of 2017.

Business opportunities open to any firm


Having been officially applied nationwide for two years since 2016, e-procurement in Vietnam has attracted thousands of procuring entities and bidders. As a result of applying technology to save costs and time, Vietnam National E–Procurement System (VNEPS) run and managed by the Public Procurement Agency uder the Ministry of Planning and Investment, is becoming an active trade platform reporting constant growth.


VNEPS is the fundamental platform where all procurement processes, including publishing bidding invitations, bidding documents, submitting bids, and announcing the bidding results, take place. All information related to the bidders submitting bids, such as their identities and number of submitted bids, are kept confidential until bid opening.


Albeit being a fairly new format, e-GP is receiving considerable attention from a large number of project owners, procuring entities, and bidders. Statistics from the Vietnam National e-Procurement Centre show that the number of e-procuring packages in 2017 totaled 8,200, more than in 2016, the first year VNEPS was launched on a national scale. The total value of e-procurement packages reached VND9 trillion ($398.2 million) in 2017.


Up to now, there have been 23,000 procuring entities and 72,000 bidders, ranging from various cities and provinces like Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Hoa Binh, Son La, Danang, Gia Lai, and Kon Tum registering on VNEPS.


Accessing information and bidding documents from anywhere, anytime, preparing and submitting bids online without needing to travel to procuring entities’ locations, e-GP has enabled bidders to get better access to many attractive business opportunities in the market of public procurement with ease and speed.


E-GP continues to accelerate in 2018


If 2016 and 2017 gave the first push for the system to adjust to the market, this year promises to see VNEPS bloom. According to the Vietnam National e-Procurement Centre, in the first six months of the year, the number of e-procurement packages has reached 6,100, almost doubling the figure of 3,300 packages in the same period in 2017. Specifically, the number of goods procurement packages accounted for the largest proportion with 3,000 packages.


With this growth, it is expected that the number of e-procurement packages in the second half of 2018 can be doubled or even tripled against 2017. In all likelihood, the projected numbers are attainable as when Circular No.04/2017/TT-BKHDT issued by the Ministry of Planning and Investment came into force on March 1, 2018 with many salient points, including expanding the scope of e-GP to cover the procurement of consulting services, non-consulting services, high-value goods, and civil works contracts where the procedure of one stage, two envelope applies, optimising the process of selecting bidders on VNEPS.

 

Circular No.04 will accelerate e-GP in 2018

 

Under Circular 04, administrative procedures and paper documents are reduced significantly with seven standard e-bidding documents maximising the usage of web forms. Circular 04 is also expected to relieve difficulties and inadequacies in the process of online bidding, such as no procurement document samples being available for the field of civil works, consulting and non-consulting services or that bidders are only allowed to submit bidding documents once.


From now on, bidders are able to seek procurement information with ease and speed through the system thanks to the clear classification of bidding information. Bidders can easily see and download bidding documents which are publicly available and free on the system, as well as prepare and submit bids via the system.


Notably, through VNEPS, the number of submitted bids and the bidders’ identity is kept confidential until bid opening. The Vietnam National e-Procurement Centre stated that prior to bid openings, no one can get access to this information, even procuring entities or the system’s admins.


Bidders should only focus to prepare their best bids to be able to win the contract. This important feature can help eliminate fraud and corruption practices like collusion or obstruction during the bidding process. VNEPS also provides applicable governing documents and guidance for bidders’ reference when participating in e-bidding.


The system, after a six-year pilot and two years of formal operation, has partially met the needs of procuring entities and enterprises. However, improvements need to be made to satisfy higher requirements in operational function and security capabilities.


With various sides engaged in the process, VNEPS pays due attention to technology and content in order to maximise the potential for investment and public procurement, contributing to the socioeconomic development of Vietnam.

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