Online marketplace for all government buys

Source: The Economic Times, Aug 10, 2016

NEW DELHI: The government has launched an online platform for most routine purchases, helping to streamline buying while making it faster, more efficient andprice competitive.

The Directorate General of Supplies and Disposals (DGS&D), the government’s central purchase arm, launched the Government e-Marketplace, or GeM, on Tuesday. The one-stop shop was developed by the Department of Electronics and Information Technology’s National e-Governance Division.

“To begin with, common-use items in 26 categories like computers, office equipment, stationery,etc., have been placed on the GeM portal. Apart from goods, the notable feature of GeM is providing facility for engaging taxi services with multiple options of hiring like spot, daily use, monthly or annually and also leasing,” the commerce department said in a release, calling this reform a “game changer.”

The number of services offered will be expanded. As ET had reported on June 8, the proposal to reform government procurement was announced by finance minister Arun Jaitley in the budget and was presented by a committee of secretaries to Prime Minister Narendra Modi as one of the mechanisms to drive cost and operational efficiencies.

“Like GST (goods and services tax) will revolutionise the tax system, this will revolutionise government procurement,” commerce and industry minister Nirmala Sitharaman said while launching the marketplace. The portal allows buyers to make direct purchases of as much as Rs 50,000.

Beyond this limit, purchases should be made through price comparison, bidding or reverse auction. Through the portal, the government will be able to consolidate its requirements across departments and be able to derive better prices fromvendors for bulk purchases. Authorities are required to make payments for GeM procurements within 10 days.

If goods are not rejected within 10 days of receipt, they will be considered accepted. The portal will help fetch the best prices and benefit buyers and sellers, Sitharaman said.

Industry has been looking forward to the launch of the portal since it is expected to bring in transparency in procurement, facilitate easier and faster payments – a major pain point – and allow smaller vendors to work with the government. Cabinet secretary PK Sinha said that the Government e-Marketplace is a “gem of an idea. “This is just the beginning. We still have a long way to go.”

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