Divisional Workshop in Sylhet on Citizen’s Engagement in Public Procurement

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BRAC Institute of Governance and Development (BIGD), BRAC University and Central Procurement Technical Unit (CPTU), IME Division, Planning Ministry jointly organized a divisional workshop on ‘Citizen’s Engagement to Ensure Social Accountability in Public Procurement’ on 24 March, 2016 at a local Hotel in Sylhet under Social Accountability Component of Public Procurement Reform Project (PPRP-II).  Around 70 participants from different strata of society including representatives from media, government officials, engineers, civil society, political parties and bidders attended the workshop.

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Participants at the workshop

A major focus of the discussion of the workshop was how to ensure citizen’s effective engagement in public procurement. In general, participants agreed that citizen’s involvement in public procurement will improve the quality of works and help create an environment for the best use of public money. Several participants in the workshop observed that the involvement of citizens in public procurement can also help identify the irregularities and weaknesses of procurement process.

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The inaugural session of the workshop was chaired by Mr. Syed Mohammad Anisur Rahman, District Additional Magistrate, Sylhet.  Following the inaugural speech by Mr. Shafiul Alam, Communications and Social Awareness Building Consultant, CPTU, IME Division; Dr. Mirza Hassan, Team Leader of the Consultant Team of BIGD delivered a brief overview of the Social Accountability component of the project. He also described how BIGD is facilitating the dissemination of information regarding the project and shared the field experiences in relation to mobilization of citizen and youth groups. In delivering vote of thanks, Mr. Mohammad Rafiqul Islam Talukdar, Senior Program Manager, BIGD referred to the three dimensions of accountability - vertical, horizontal and downward - linking the downward accountability with the social accountability and citizen’s involvement in public procurement process.

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Followed by the plenary session, a group-work session was organized. It was divided into three groups and each group was provided with three sets of questions regarding existing laws, strategy of citizen involvement and the question of long-term sustainability of the project. The recommendations and suggestions that came from threadbare discussion of different groups were wide-ranging and constructive. Mr. Ekram Hossain, Senior Manager (Communications) and Mr. Mohammad Rafiqul Islam Talukdar, Senior Program Manager, both from BIGD facilitated both the plenary and the group-work sessions.

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Participants at the group-work session

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. 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 Bangladesh.