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S. Habeeb Hussain

Tender Shenanigans

Any public sector system must have an in-built system of checks and balances. A myriad number of Public Corporations came about because of sweeping nationalisation in 1972. That they were created in good faith and in the general public interest one is more than inclined to accept; that they have since become a source of indirect taxation on the people of Pakistan is also a fact of life. It makes it all the more necessary that a system must be designed to minimise nepotism, favouritism and corruption, that it must not become a hydra-headed monster fuelling not only inflation but also feeding on the economic potential for development by adding to non-developmental expenditure. One reason for rampant inflation is the result of erosion of honest dealing in the confidential processing of tenders for different commodities that need to be imported from time to time. An all-encompassing secrecy negates the inherent right of the public to ensure that no skulduggery takes place and more often than not, barring exceptional cases, the whole exercise of tendering becomes an elaborate exercise in public deception. In countries like Pakistan where some measure of state control is necessary, it becomes important to streamline the process in a manner that functionaries of the state cannot fiddle with it. It must be remembered that the sanctity of the tender remains till the Bids are opened and it is only thereafter that manipulations happen because of the secrecy of further proceedings.

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