Public Procurement Regulation must not nurture unscrupulous contractors

Published On: March 1, 2024 07:30 AM NPT By: Republica  | @RepublicaNepal

The government has amended the Public Procurement Regulation for the 13th time in a bid to extend the contracts of projects delayed due to various circumstances.

Government officials claim that the regulation was amended to facilitate certain projects that faced genuine problems. They have maintained that only the projects facing delays due to factors other than contractors’ fraud will be granted deadline extensions. Officials claim that the projects for which the government could not provide the budget on time will also benefit from this decision.

Although the government claims that the deadline will be extended only for projects facing specific challenges such as design changes in the purchase agreement, insufficient budget, non-availability of construction site, non-payment on time, lack of construction materials, or natural disasters at the construction sites, there are plenty of reasons to doubt. 

Critics have raised alarm that unscrupulous contractors are largely benefitted from the government’s decision taking undue advantage from the legal loopholes. It is estimated that more than 1,000 projects that have not been completed within the stipulated time will get a deadline extension. For the past several years, the government agencies have been found extending the deadline of these projects by amending the laws related to public procurement under various pretexts.

The government’s approval of the 13th amendment to the Public Procurement Regulation, 2080, has legally opened the way to extend the deadline of projects that contractors have not completed on time. The government is even accused of amending the regulations under pressure from construction entrepreneurs.

Contractors of projects related to infrastructure such as road, irrigation, buildings, urban development, and electricity projects will benefit from this. 

The Public Procurement Regulations were amended by a meeting of the Council of Ministers on Monday, benefiting the contractors who have not carried out their work on stipulated time. Prior to this, the government had also amended the Public Procurement Regulations on July 4, 2022, allowing for the extension of pending contracts by one year. Then on July 6, the government published a notice in the Nepal Gazette extending the deadline for projects that were about to expire.

As a newspaper, we acknowledge that while some projects legitimately require extensions due to special problems, negligent contractors can also take advantage of this situation.

Although the government might have taken the decision out of necessity, it needs to be careful that some contractors deliberately delaying the projects must not be given a deadline extension.

The government must take into account the fact that some contractors have deliberately put projects worth billions of rupees on hold, adding a huge financial burden to the state.

The government has rightly stated that the contractors must justify the need for the extension of the construction period. Let’s hope that the government keeps its word and does not fall in the temptations of financial gains offered by the contractors to extend the deadline.


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