In a bid to guard against another scam ahead of general elections,the government has instructed public sector banks that sale of properties to recover payments from defaulting borrowers be done only via e-auction.
The move is in line with measures taken by the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) earlier last year,which issued instructions to its Directorate of Purchase and Stores to review its procurement process,specifically citing the need to reduce the number of single or limited tenders and to expedite e-procurement wherever feasible.
Other government departments and ministries,including the Road Transport and Highways Ministry,Power Ministry and Textiles Ministry,too are on a drive to reorient their sourcing and fund-disbursement processes with the aim of clamping down on corruption.
During the last meeting of general managers (recovery/legal) of all public sector banks (PSBs) held in December 2012,it was advised that all auctions of immovable properties,under The Securitisation and Reconstruction of Financial Assets and Enforcement of Security Interest (SARFAESI) Act,2002,be carried out through e-auction to ensure a free,fair and transparent process.
In line with the instructions,PSBs have already finalised the service provider for the e-auctions and many banks have started holding the same,according to government officials involved in the exercise.
As for the DAEs move to revamp its procurement processes,it followed criticism by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) following an audit of procurement in stores and inventory management of its units. CAG noted that substantial procurements by the DAE were based on restrictive mode of tendering (single or limited tenders) and as such could achieve only limited competition.
In its defence,the department said that it resorted to single or limited mode of tendering in cases of procurement of strategic and sensitive materials,technologies and original equipment items.
The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways too has asked all state governments to adopt e-tendering for execution of road and bridge works on national highways and centrally financed schemes. Since earlier last year,the ministry has stopped reimbursement of expenditure incurred on any work in which e-tendering has not been followed.
The Textile Ministry,according to a senior functionary,has stepped up internal due diligence over fund disbursements through its flagship interest subsidy scheme called the Technology Upgradation Fund Scheme. All eligible claims need to be pre-authorised by the textiles commissioner,and there is to be intensive monitoring by an inter-ministerial committee chaired by the textiles secretary.
The Power Ministry is also learnt to have stepped up vigil on disbursements through its restructured Accelerated Power Development and Reforms Programme,a Rs 51,577-crore scheme that extends loans and grants to distribution utilities for structural reforms.
Most of these measures,insiders say,have been prompted by the heightened vigilance against corruption in the wake of the 2G spectrum scam.
According to a highways ministry official,apart from better transparency and reduced tender cycle-time,This is also expected to result in reducing labour-intensive tasks of receiving bids and reducing the cost of participation,besides improved bidder response and increased efficiency. The bidders can even see their status in each tendering process.