Purchase scam fallout: 'Check market rates before issuing contracts'

A general resolution issued on Thursday asks departments to scrap policy of issuing contracts simply to the lowest bidder; it wants them to check whether the rates correspond with the prevalent market rates so that the quality of the material procured is not compromised

Concerned over the alleged Rs 206-crore procurement scam, in which Women and Child Development Minister Pankaja Munde’s name has cropped up, the state government has made a significant change in its purchase policy. Instead of simply issuing contracts to the lowest bidder, like they did so far, the government has asked all departments to check whether the lowest rates given in tenders correspond with the prevalent market price so that the quality of material procured is not compromised.

Rs 206-crore procurement scam: ACB seeks explanation from Pankaja Munde's department

Pankaja Munde is accused of clearing purchases worth R206 crore without inviting e-tenders
Pankaja Munde is accused of clearing purchases worth R206 crore without inviting e-tenders

The finance department issued a government resolution in this regard on Thursday. “All departments must have estimated cost of each item to be procured in advance (before issuing tenders). Estimated cost of the indented items should be invariably mentioned in the indent and it should correspond with the prevalent market price of (the respective) item,” the GR states.

The GR has asked for scrapping the method in which bids are accepted only because the lowest rates are quoted. “The lowest rates must be verified with the prevalent market rates and, based on this, the tenders should be cleared by (the respective) purchase committee,” the GR says.

The GR applies to government and semi-government offices, municipal corporations/councils, government undertakings/corporations/bo-ards, zilla parishads. The GR stated that the amendment was an effort to bring parity in rates across the state.

Background
mid-day had reported yesterday that, in the alleged scam, Munde is accused of clearing the purchase of 24 items, worth Rs 206 crore, without inviting e-tenders. It has also been alleged that the quality of the items procured, which include a nutritious snack (chikki), stainless steel utensils, water filters, and books, is sub-standard.

On Thursday, the Anti-Corruption Bureau asked Sanjay Kumar, principal secretary of Munde’s Women and Child Welfare department, to submit a response to a complaint filed by state Congress spokesperson Sachin Sawant.

CM Devendra Fadnavis has defended Munde saying that, “prima facie”, the minister seemed to have done nothing wrong “Prima facie, there appears to be no wrongdoing (on Pankaja’s part). If needed, we will probe the issue,” he said, adding that the purchases were approved in February this year as funds provided by the Centre under the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) would have expired on March 31. “The norm of inviting e-tenders for purchases worth R3 lakh or more was introduced in April,” the CM said.

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