Workshop in Khulna on Public Procurement
Citizens' engagement will improve quality of work, ensure
social accountability and best use of public money

Citizens engagement in public procurement will improve the quality of works, ensure social accountability and would enable to create an environment for the best use of public money. The involvement of citizens in public procurement can also identify the irregularities and errors of procurement. To aware people about the existing rules and regulations of procurement process, engaging campaigns are required to involve citizens in the process.

Such recommendations emerged from the inaugural session of a workshop titled How to Engage Citizens and Ensure Social Accountability in Public Procurement, organised jointly by BRAC Institute of Governance and Development (BIGD), BRAC University and Central Procurement Technical Unit (CPTU), IME Division of Planning Ministry, on thursday, 11 February 2016, at the Hotel City Inn, Khulna. BIGD 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 of the country.

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Guests and participants at the inaugural session of the workshop

Khulna Divisional Commissioner Md. Abdus Samad graced the workshop as the Chief Guest, while the World Bank Lead Procurement Specialist Dr. Zafarul Islam was present as the Special Guest. Deputy Commissioner of Khulna Nazmul Ahsan presided over the workshop. CPTU Director General Md. Faruk Hossain delivered the welcome speech at the event. Among others, Sheikh Harunur Rashid, President, Khulna District Awami League, and Lead researcher of BIGD and team leader of Social Accountability component of PPRP-II Dr. Mirza Hassan spoke at the event.

Faruk Hossain said, if transparency and accountability can be ensured in public procurement, and the rule of law can be established through keeping the process free from corruption, it will help the government in ensuring overall good governance.

Admiring the initiative and strong commitment of Bangladesh government, Dr. Zarful Islam said, Bangladesh is the only country in the world, lending money from the World Bank to reform public procurement process which is a rare and bold example of a country willing to bring changes for the public good. It indicates high-level commitment of the government.

Sheikh Harunur Rashid elaborated on the necessity of openness, transparency and accountability in the delivery of public services.

Nazmul Ahsan stressed on estabishing trust among the relevant stakeholders reiterating the need of accountability in reforming the public procurement process and requested the tenderers, the government agencies and other parties to put establishment of trust among each other as the top priority.  

Md. Abdus Samad said, we need to work for noble cause, so that it can benefit the country. He said the main objective of our activities is to improve the conditions of our people. If it does not serve the purpose, then it is meaningless. And the people's constructive criticism, suggestions and inclusion is very much needed to accomplish the goal. 

Dr. Mirza Hassan made a presentation on a plan to pilot third-party monitoring (TPM) of public procurement in four upazillas of Rangpur and Sirajganj districts.

About 70 participants took part in the workshop and made recommendations about the need and ways for citizen engagement or TPM of public procurement. The participants were split into four groups. Each of the groups finalized their recommendations about TPM and presented those in the workshop. Some more similar workshops will be held at divisional level culminating into a national workshop in Dhaka.

The objectives of the workshop were to raise awareness about citizen engagement in public procurement at the division level, to reflect on the perceptions on existing rules and regulations and discuss whether any amendments are required and introducing the third party monitoring piloting strategy and gather feedback/suggestions from the workshop participants.

The participants represented government procuring entities, tenderer community, civil society, media, business community, local government institutions, academia and elected representatives of various tiers up to Parliament. Representatives from Assistance for Social Organisation & Development (ASOD) and Eco Social Development Organization (ESDO), the two implementation partner of this piloting project were also present at the workshop.