Govt orders cancellation of tendering process after noticing several flaws

Hiring of transport for carriage of food-grains
Keeping many aspects out of e-NIT process raises eyebrows

Mohinder Verma

JAMMU, Oct 9: Putting Department of Food, Civil Supplies and Consumer Affairs in the dock for lack of transparency and accountability, the Government has ordered cancellation of tendering process for hiring of transport for carriage of food-grains to different parts of Jammu division after noticing several serious flaws in the exercise with the direction for strictly following the guidelines of the Department of Expenditure of Union Finance Ministry.
Official sources told EXCELSIOR that Director of Food, Civil Supplies and Consumer Affairs Department Jammu, who is also Chairman of Provincial Level Contract Committee floated a tender for hiring of transport for carriage of food-grains in respect of Jammu division vide e-NIT No.6-FCS&CA of 2018 dated February 11, 2019.
In the meanwhile, the Administrative Department started receiving complaints from different quarters regarding the allotment process of the tender and rebate offered by the lowest bidder.
Acting on the complaints, the competent authority issued directions for constitution of a committee to scrutinize the tendering process for hiring of transport for carriage of food-grains and accordingly vide Government Order No.582-GAD dated May 14, 2019, a committee was constituted under the chairmanship of the Financial Commissioner, Finance Department.
During the detailed exercise, the committee noticed several serious flaws in the tendering process, which formed the basis for filing of complaints. “Though each and every aspect of hiring transport for carriage of food-grains was required to be on-line but concerned authorities had deliberately kept some components off-line for the reasons best known to them”, sources said.
“Instead of completely avoiding human interface, which was the mandate of e-tendering process, the concerned authorities of the Department of Food, Civil Supplies and Consumer Affairs purposely facilitated entry of those who participated in the tendering process to their office on the pretext of submission of documents”, they informed, adding “in this way they created obstacles in achieving the intent behind adopting e-tendering procedure”.
They further said that some shortcomings in the bid document and violation of guidelines of procurement were also noticed by the committee headed by Financial Commissioner, Finance Department.
In its report, the committee mentioned: “Keeping in view the gravity of the matter with respect to the issues under consideration, the bid document needs revision to have consistency with the existing guidelines of procurement as such the tendering process initiated by the Director, Food, Civil Supplies and Consumer Affairs Department needs to be cancelled and fresh tenders should be issued with tender document duly vetted by the Law Department afresh”.
The recommendations of the committee were then submitted to the General Administration Department for approval of the competent authority and the General Administration Department accepted the recommendations and forwarded the same to the Administrative Secretary of Department of Food, Civil Supplies and Consumer Affairs for implementation.
Now, Secretary to the Government, Department of Food, Civil Supplies and Consumer Affairs has accorded sanction to the cancellation of the tendering process initiated by the Director in respect of hiring of transport for carriage of food-grains initiated vide e-NIT No.6-FCS&CA dated February 11, 2019.
He has issued directions for floating of fresh tender by the Director, Food, Civil Supplies and Consumer Affairs Department for hiring of transport for carriage of food-grains after the tender document is duly vetted by the Law Department.
It is pertinent to mention here that transport is hired for carriage of food-grains to different parts of State for a period of two years. “No doubt, floating of fresh tenders will lead to delay but utmost transparency and accountability should be the foremost priority”, sources said.
The Administrative Secretary has reiterated that e-procurement guidelines of the Department of Expenditure of Union Finance Ministry should be strictly followed so as to maintain transparency and accountability.
It may be recalled that last month Financial Commissioner, Finance Department had issued detailed instructions to all the Government departments for strict adherence to the e-procurement guidelines of Union Finance Ministry on the intervention of Department of Jammu and Kashmir Affairs in the Union Ministry of Home Affairs.
The J&K Affairs Department vide Communication No.110414/05/2014/K-I/III dated August 21, 2019 had advised the Government of Jammu and Kashmir to implement the e-procurement guidelines as laid down under Rule 160 of the General Financial Rules, 2017.