MEETINGS

8th Public-Private Stakeholders Committee Meeting Held

Participants and the Planning Minister at the 8th meeting of the Public-Private Stakeholders Committee

The eighth meeting of the Public-Private Stakeholders Committee (PPSC) was held on 11 September 2013 at the NEC Conference Room-2 of Planning Commission Campus, Sher-e-Bangla Nagar, Dhaka. The meeting was organised and facilitated by Central Procurement Technical Unit (CPTU) of the Implementation Monitoring & Evaluation Division (IMED) of the Planning Ministry and the Institute of Governance Studies (IGS) at the BRAC University respectively.

IGS Consultant AKM Nashirul Huq presented the draft on ‘Strategy for Civic Engagement in Public Procurement’. This was a revised version based on the draft placed on the 7th PPSC meeting held on 3 July, 2013. The draft strategy presented at the meeting included a number of recommendations. The strategy recommended using a strong advocacy campaign from the grassroot level to create public awareness, creating voluntary citizens group, e-tendering and use of the right to information to prompt pro-active disclosures from the procurement entities, creating bidders and journalist forum and capacity building of the citizens. Finally, the strategy emphasised on setting up a specialized organisation to oversee the monitoring of public procurement. The presentation was then followed by open discussions by the participants and the members of the PPSC.

The meeting was presided over by the Honourable Planning Minister and the Chairperson of PPSC Air vice Marshal (Retd.) AK Khandakar. Amulya Kumar Debnath, Chief of IMED, Director General of CPTU and the Member Secretary of the PPSC, and IMED Secretary Mesbah Uddin assisted the chair in conducting the meeting. The Minister delivered a welcome speech to the attending participants, representing PPSC member organisations in the meeting. Among others, Additional Secretary to the Economic Relations Division Arastou Khan, Joint Secretary to the Finance Division Faruque Hossain, FBCCI Adviser Manzur Ahmed, Director AKM Shahid Reza,President Bangladesh Association of Construction Industry (BACI) Aftabuddin Ahmed, and Vice President of Bangladesh Association of Consulting Engineer (BACE) Lailun Nahar Ekram attended the meeting.

The Minister also opened the 12th issue of the PPSC newsletter—Public Procurement Watch, which was then circulated among the participants. IGS Director Dr. Rizwan Khair, Senior Programme Manager Mohammad Rafiqul Islam Talukdar and Project Manager Ekram Hossain, Research Associates Saika Nudrat Chowdhury and Sultan Muhammad Zakaria and Research Assistant Nabila Zaman also attended the meeting.

BIGD-CPTU Contract Signing Ceremony to implement PPRP II (Extension phase) held

PPRP Contract Signing Ceremony 1
Mr. Md. Faruque Hossain, DG, CPTU; Mr. Zafrul Islam, World Bank; Mr. Md. Shahid Ulla Khandaker, IMED; Dr. Sultan Hafeez Rahman, ED, BIGD, &
Mr. RafiqulIslam Talukdar at the signing ceremony (From left to right) 

BIGD, BRAC University and the Central Procurement Technical Unit (CPTU) under the Implementation Monitoring & Evaluation Division (IMED) of the Ministry of Planning (MoP), came together at a ceremony on July 23, 2015, to officially sign the contract for the Public Procurement Reform Project (PPRP) II, under which BIGD will act as the Social Accountability Consultant to help design and implement the social accountability mechanism that aims to institutionalize and develop a Third Party Monitoring System (TPM) in the public procurement process in the country. Based on the lessons learned from the phase II of PPRP, and in consultation with CPTU and the World Bank, BIGD has reformulated the existing Public-Private Stakeholders Committee (PPSC). It will also help ensure effective functioning of the committee so that it can provide policy inputs to strengthen the public procurement system of the country. At the same time, it is responsible for implementing a public procurement monitoring and accountability mechanism by engaging citizen groups as a third party in the public procurement system. This will include selecting an implementing partner in the field level and to build their capacity in public procurement issues so that this agency can ensure TPM engagement in the procurement system at the local level.

Mr. Md. Shahid Ullah Khandaker, Secretary of IMED; Mr. Md. Faruque Hossain, Director General of CPTU; Dr. Sultan Hafeez Rahman, Executive Director of BIGD and Ms. Parveen Akther, Director of CPTU were present during the ceremony. Dr. Zafrul Islam, Lead Procurement Specialist, The World Bank; Mr. Md. Nasimur Rahman Sharif, Deputy Director and Mr. Shafiul Alam, Communication and Social Awareness Consultant, both from CPTU; Md. Rafiqul Islam Talukdar and Ms. Kaneta Zillur from BIGD were also present at the signing ceremony.

PPRP-II is being implemented to ensure sustainability of the procurement reform programme. CPTU/IMED is the key implementing agency for the project while the sectoral target agencies are responsible for implementation of procurement management and monitoring actions at the agency level. The objective of the Second Public Procurement Reform Project in Bangladesh is to improve performance of the public procurement system progressively in Bangladesh, focusing largely on the key sectoral ministries and targeting their implementing agencies.

9th Meeting of Public-Private Stakeholders’ Committee
Citizens’ engagement in public procurement is a demand of time,
says Planning Minister
 
Pic 1  PPSC 9th
 
It is a demand of time to involve citizens in public procurement process and monitor those by them (citizens) as public money is used in procurement, says Mr. A H M Mostafa Kamal, Planning Minister and Chairperson of the Public-Private Stakeholders’ Committee (PPSC) in its ninth meeting. To ensure transparency and accountability in procurement process, they should be empowered and made aware of the process, he added.
 
He also recommended proper utilisation of public money through optimal use of resources, saying that penalty should be ensured if there is any breach of contracts.
 
The Minister was addressing as the Chair of the 9th meeting of PPSC, held on 4 February, 2016 at NEC Conference room, Planing Commission Campus, Agaragon, Dhaka. The Minister in the meeting also launched a newsletter titled 'Public Procurement Watch'. The BRAC Institute of Governance and Development (BIGD) of BRAC University is providing the technical assistance to the CPTU, IMED to help design and implement the social accountability mechanism that aims to institutionalize and develop a third party monitoring system in the public procurement process in the country.
 
Pic 3 PPSC 9th
 
World Bank's Procurement Specialist Dr. Zafrul Islam; BIGD, BRAC University Executive Director Dr. Sultan Hafeez Rahman; IMED Secretary Md Shahid Ulla Khandaker; LGD Secretary Abdul Malek; Planning Secretary Tarique-ul-Islam; Director General of CPTU Md. Faruque Hossain; CPD Executive Director Dr. Mostafizur Rahman; representatives from LGED, WASA, WDB, IBA of Dhaka University, media, and business community also spoke at the meeting.
 
It is time to think about the formation of watchdog, how it would be formed and the selection process, Mr. Malek said suggesting participation of local representatives in ensuring the quality of work. Dr.  Mustafizur Rahman recommended involvement of local people and local government in public procurement monitoring mechanism saying that “all politics and developments are local.”
 
Pic 2 PPSC 9th
Dr. Sultan Hafeez Rahman, Mr. A H M Mostafa Kamal and Dr. Mirza M. Hasan at the meeting
 
Speakers stressed the need for more involvement of people in both procurement and monitoring process to ensure transparency and accountability in the execution of government's development projects. Information on the projects such as nature of project work and duration, expenditure, starting time should be made public on website, the meeting recommended. Other recommendations include empowerment of people and formation of project area-based monitoring committee and e-tendering to ensure transparency and accountability in procurement activities.
 
Earlier, Dr. Mirza M. Hasan, Adjunct Fellow, BIGD delivered a presentation on mechanism of citizen engagement in government's procurement activities.
 
PPSC is formed under the auspices of the Public Procurement Reform Project-II (PPRP-II) with representatives from business community, think tanks, and civil society organizations along with senior government officials, to institutionalize external monitoring and citizen engagement in different stages of public procurement. The committee was reconstituted recently, increasing number of PPSC members to 43 from 27, to engage high-level policy dialogue which will contribute to development of strategic goals regarding procurement reform at field level and generate discussions at different national and regional forums.
 
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Illicit money and illicit power are influencing the Public Procurement
Experts said at the 12th PPSC meeting
12thPPSC


Illicit money and Illicit power are badly influencing public procurement. The procuring entities are facing various challenges during implementation of projects, especially at field level. Absence of a proper monitoring system of public procurement is one of the reasons, for which Bangladesh cannot ensure proper implementation of projects and its quality.

These were some of the observations of the participants at the 12th meeting of Public Private Stakeholders' Committee (PPSC) under Public Procurement Reform Project II of Central Procurement Technical Unit (CPTU) under Ministry of Planning. The meeting was held on the 8th June 2017 at the NEC Conference Room, Planning Commission Campus in the capital, which was facilitated by BRAC Institute of Governance and Development (BIGD), BRAC University.

Team leader of the social accountability component of PPRP-II Dr. Mirza M Hassan presented the findings of the monitoring report of pilot projects completed in two districts - Rangpur and Sirajganj - by the citizens committees. He also proposed scaling up the project on a national level.

He said the citizens committees monitored the textbook print quality and distribution of text books in 28 schools in the two districts at the first day of the year. They also monitored 19 projects (11 road constructions and 8 school building constructions) in these areas where the committees failed to monitor two projects out of the 19 due to interference by socially and politically influential persons.

Beyond the engagement of the Citizen Committees, the project was also able to successfully mobilize local communities for monitoring projects which led to conceptual and strategic innovation of a Site Specific Citizen Monitoring idea which we plan to replicate nationally, he added.

Implementation Monitoring and Evaluation Division (IMED) Secretary in Charge Md. Mofizul Islam, who also presided over the meeting, said, most of the citizens do not know that their money is being spent in public procurement. Increasing people’s awareness regarding public procurement will reduce the influence of Illicit money and Illicit power. The monitoring only by IMED personnel is not enough, and the citizens should have a role in monitoring the development projects. He added that proper monitoring of public procurement is an important issue for successful implementation of the projects. The government wants to ensure cent per cent transparency and accountability in public procurement.

In response to a question on formation of Citizens Committee he said, “Citizens committees should be formed with those persons, whose morals and ethics are above question. We need citizens' monitoring in purchasing of goods also, as we want to get value for money."

CPTU Director General Md. Faruque Hossain said there are various challenges in monitoring of the public projects by citizens committees, as there is no legal provision in this regard. If the government finds third party monitoring beneficial, the relevant rules will be changed to give it a legal basis.

Dr. Sultan Hafeez Rahman, Executive Director, BIGD; Mr. ANM Mustafizur Rahman, World Bank; Dr. Kazi Ali Toufique, Research Director, Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies (BIDS); Mr. Ahmed Najmul Hussain, Administrative Director, BRAC; Engr. S. M. Khorshed Alam, Director, Bangladesh Association of Construction Industry; Mr. Ziaur Rahman, General Secretary, Economic Reporters’ Forum also made their valuable remarks and participated in discussion at the meeting. 

The Public-Private Stakeholders’ Committee (PPSC) has been formed under the auspices of the Public Procurement Reform Project-II (PPRP-II) with representatives from business community, think tanks, and civil society organizations along with government officials, to institutionalise external monitoring and citizen engagement in different stages of public procurement.
We must focus more on quality than quantity of development works
to avoid higher maintenance cost
said Planning minister AHM Mustafa Kamal at the 11th PPSC meeting

11th ppsc meeting


"The lion's share of the budgetary allocation is spent for maintenance. We have to reduce wastage and show zero tolerance. We must focus more on quality than quantity of development works to avoid higher maintenance cost.” said Planning minister AHM Mustafa Kamal. He advised to replicate citizens' engagement in public procurement process in at least 50 representative upazilas out of the total 491. He also pointed out that effective monitoring through citizens' engagement can reduce project cost and ensure quality.  The planning minister also called for forming area-wise citizens' committee where community and opinion leaders will be the members to monitor various government projects. He was speaking at the 11th meeting of 'Public-Private Stakeholders Committee' (PPSC) under public procurement reform project II of the Central Procurement Technical Unit (CPTU) at the NEC conference room in the city on 9 February 2017. BIGD, in association with the World Bank (WB) and Central Procurement Technical Unit (CPTU) of IME Division, Ministry of Planning, organised the programme. At present, the project has been piloted in four upazilas of Sirajganj and Rangpur districts. As the broad objective of the PPRP-II is to improve performance of the public procurement system, the meeting discussed learning from the national seminar ‘Citizen Engagement in Public Procurement’ and provides a final update on the field activities.

Mr Kamal said the prime minister has the directive regarding citizens' engagement. There should be identical colour and signboard with description of all development projects; he suggested referring to the PM's instruction. Ruling out various objections about projects of the government, the minister said no project plan is approved without feasibility study and much discussion. "First we see whether the project is in conflict with the 7th five year plan," he said, adding, needs assessment is of course done for any project. "If we can start this practice, this will bring benefit and no harm," he said.

BIGD adjunct fellow Mirza M Hassan made a presentation on experience of pilot projects in four upazilas. He said citizens' engagement needs to be formalised under a legal framework to avoid unnecessary harassment of any party during the project work. It was also observed during the discussion meeting with engineers that project specification was not followed meticulously during implementation stage. Mr Hassan proposed that the pilot projects should be scaled up to district level in a more complex society to ensure quality of project implementation and needs assessment.

Chief procurement specialist of the World Bank, Dhaka Zafrul Islam said citizens' engagement is a new concept although it was thought to be a buzz word a few years back. He noted that citizens' engagement in projects can ensure good governance. There are problems at grassroots level while implementing policy-level decisions, he said. It is necessary to know what the field-level people think about projects and awareness should be created among the field-level officers, he added.

Among others, Md. Faruque Hossain, Director General, CPTU; Syed Rashedul Hossen, Deputy Secretary, Finance Division, Ministry of Finance; Md. Mahmudul Hoque, Joint Secretary, IMED; Md. Rois Uddin, Additional Secretary, LGD,; Md. Nazrul Islam, Member, Planning Commission; Md. Fazlur Rahman, Director Programme, DPE; Brig. Gen. Md. Parvvez Kabir, Director, CMSD; Munshi basher Ahmed, Director, Project Planning, PDB; Mohammad Eklas Uddin, Director of Finance, EWU, Abdul Ahad, Director, Finance and Admin, TIB and Engr. S M Khorshed Alam, Vice President, BACI also shared their observations and suggestions at the meeting. 

PPSC is largely focusing on the key sectoral ministries and targeting their implementing agencies, including Roads and Highways (RHD), Local Government Engineering Department (LGED), Rural Electrification Board (REB) and Bangladesh Water Development Board (BWDB). The PPRP-II has four components: 1) furthering policy reform and institutionalizing capacity development, II) strengthening procurement management at sectoral level and Central Procurement Technical Unit (CPTU)/ Implementation Moni-toring and Evaluation Division (IMED), III) introducing e-Govern-ment (e-GP) behavioural change communication and social accountability.
BIGD’s Strategic Plan 2016-2020
Leading experts and scholars from BRAC family briefed and consulted
 
7 Institutional Strategic Plan Meeting
(From left to right) Dr. Sultan Hafeez Rahman, Dr. A. Mushtaque Raza Chowdhury and
Barrister Manzoor Hasan at the event

Scholars and top executives from BRAC and BRAC affiliated institutes attended a consultation meeting organised by BRAC Institute of Governance and Development (BIGD), BRAC University, held on May 24, 2016 at the BRAC Centre Inn, Dhaka.The purpose of the meeting was to share the key features of BIGD’s draft Strategic Plan 2016-2020 with fellow colleagues from BRAC family and incorporate their feedback.

2 Institutional Strategic Plan Meeting
Glimpses from the group work at the event

BIGD Executive Director Dr. Sultan Hafeez Rahman welcomed the distinguished participants and shared a brief overview of the draft strategic plan. Dr. A. Mushtaque Raza Chowdhury, Member, Advisory Council, BIGD, and Vice Chair, BRAC moderated the session. Followed by a presentation on the strategic plan, the participants provided their observations, inputs and feedback through different sessions i.e group work and Q/A.

Among others, BIGD senior staff participated at the meeting.

3 Institutional Strategic Plan Meeting
Glimpses from the group work at the event

Initiated in early 2015, the draft Strategic Plan has been prepared through a series of consultations i.e. in-house retreat and internal meetings, consultations with stakeholders etc. From now up to July, 2016, few more consultations are planned with various stakehold groups before the Strategic Plan is finalized by July.