Government enters e-commerce era, moves to online buying

Government of India stepped into a new era of procurement today with the inauguration of its e-Marketplace.

It will now be possible for government officials to buy common use items in 26 categories like computers, office equipment, stationery, via the portal.

Apart from goods, the system also allows for requisitioning services, such as engaging a taxi including hiring like spot, daily use, monthly or annually.

The portal was conceived of after being pitched by two presentations made by bureaucrats in front of Prime Minister Modi earlier this year. It will be used to make all routine purchases by the government in a transparent way.

Procurement is considered one of the key areas where corruption persists due to the possibility of showing favor or disfavor to certain bidders and suppliers.

The platform was given the green signal in March this year and the project was handed over to the egovernance department within the Department of IT.

“Government eMarketplace has been developed jointly in a record time for select goods and services,” the commerce ministry said.

The system will relieve “public offices from tedious and time consuming tendering process and thus cuts down on administrative and transaction costs.”

The portal has been linked to epayment systems of the State Bank of India as well as Public Financial Management System, a method of disbursing central funds to various schemes and projects.

To enable the new payment and procurement platform, the government has amended its rules.

Under the new sytstem, a buyer can do direct purchase up to Rs 50,000 and beyond this via price comparison, bidding or reverse auction.

Department of Expenditure has also issued directive to all paying authorities to make payments on GeM procurement within a maximum of 10 days.

Acceptance or rejection of goods has to be within 10 days of receipt or will be deemed accepted, commerce ministry said.