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Higher threshold for open tender a setback: TI-M

KUALA LUMPUR, 26 Feb 2009: The National Economic Council’s decision to raise the threshold for open tender projects is a setback for transparency and accountability, said Transparency International Malaysia (TI-M).

TI-M president Tan Sri Ramon Navaratnam said it was “discouraged and disturbed” by the decision that only government projects worth more than RM500,000 need to go through the open tender process, up from the current threshold of RM200,000.

Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, who announced the move on Tuesday, said it was aimed at speeding up the implementation of government projects and would involve Class E contractors.

Ramon, in a statement, said while speed might be gained by awarding contracts on the basis of quotations instead of open tender, “transparency and accountability will be lost”.

Ramon, a former deputy secretary-general of the treasury, said it could also lead to abuse whereby huge contracts could be broken down into smaller contracts of RM500,000 and distributed to all kinds of Class E contractors, who might be incompetent and do not have a good track record.

He described the open tender system as the “best practice to ensure quality and price competitiveness”.

He said the objective of good governance cannot be achieved if this easy-going and expedient policy and practice of quotations for selecting Class E contractors and awarding contracts was adopted.

Ramon suggested that the speed and quality in implementing government contracts could be achieved by providing a shorter time-frame for submission and consideration of tenders.

He said there was also a need for the government or the newly-established Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission to appoint special supervisors to check on the performance and productivity of contractors.

Their tasks should include assessing the quality of completed projects and preventing under-specification and non-compliance with technical standards and procedures stipulated in the tender documents, he added. — Bernama

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