(COLOMBO, LANKAPUVATH) – Sri Lanka’s Ministry of Finance has launched an electronic government procurement system (e-GP) to improve transparency and minimize corruption.
Minister of Finance Mangala Samaraweera has received the approval of the Cabinet of Ministers to introduce an electronic Government Procurement System, which is a major reform in public finances.
The electronic government procurement system is expected to improve transparency in procurement, minimize room for corruption and reduce government costs by up to Rs. 30 billion, significantly increasing efficiency in public processes.
Speaking at the launch, Minister Samaraweera said Sri Lanka, as a country, annually spend around a quarter of government expenditure on public procurement, which amounts to nearly 15% of the GDP.
Considering the magnitude of that total annual expenditure, it needs closer attention and scrutiny from all the stakeholders in the public management systems. Also procurement plays a strategic function.
“Corruption, misappropriation and mismanagement of public assets must be tackled with a policy of zero tolerance, which from my point of view, remain difficult in our part of the world because of systemic weaknesses,” the Minister noted.
Therefore, the Minister of Finance, said he obtained the approval of the cabinet of Ministers to launch the e-GP program to address the existing shortcomings and to facilitate fast tracking procurement decisions
“Today, of course, in advancing our efforts to transform the traditional manual procurement process into a modern system, the Finance Ministry places Sri Lanka on par with very advanced nations, that include Singapore, European Union and Canada,” Minister Samaraweera said.
He pointed out that Sri Lanka, being a States Party to the United Nations Convention against Corruption, has the international obligations to improve its public procurement processes.
The Article 9 of the Corruption Convention refers to public procurement and management of public finances, whereby the State Parties are requested to take the necessary steps to establish appropriate systems of procurement, based on transparency, competition and objective criteria in decision-making, that are effective in preventing corruption.
“In Sri Lanka, the decisions of implementing many important projects are lagging behind because of the manual system that links to the decades� old complicated governance mechanisms. Now in the first quarter of the 21st Century, Sri Lanka as a modern nation, must look forward to utilize new technologies to make our decisions faster, transparent and more accountable.”
“I am convinced that, this new e-GP system will save nearly LKR 30 billion to the Treasury, while improving the public financial management to a greater extent,” the Minister asserted.