New Delhi: In order to check corruption and ensure transparency in public procurement, the Government on Monday introduced a Bill in the Lok Sabha under which a public servant can be imprisoned for up to five years for accepting bribe and vitiating the bidding process.
The Public Procurement Bill 2012, introduced by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, seeks to regulate award of government contracts of over Rs 50 lakh with the object of ensuring "transparency, accountability and probity".
The crucial bill, which was being pushed in the wake of campaign against corruption by civil society last year, is aimed at ensuring "fair and equitable treatment of bidders, promoting competition, enhancing efficiency and economy, and maintaining integrity and public confidence in the procurement process".
The Bill, according to statement of objects and reasons, will codify the basic norms to regulate public procurement and provide for debarring bidders found engaged in corrupt practices.
The Bill also provides for a jail term ranging from six months to five years for public servants found guilty of demanding and accepting bribes from bidders of government contracts.
Currently, there is no overarching legislation governing public procurement by the central government and central public sector enterprises. The General Financial Rules, 2005, govern procurements made by the Centre.
The Bill is based on the recommendations of Committee on Public Procurement headed by former bureaucrat Vinod Dhall which were accepted on February 22 by a Group of Ministers, headed by Mukherjee, to tackle corruption.