The government of Himachal Pradesh has introduced a portal called Government e-marketplace (GeM) that will provide purchase arm to allow government ‘babus’ to make routine office purchases from cups to spoons to laptops to plain papers.
According to Punjab News Express, sources in the Administration revealed that the portal aimed to support an interface to modern e-commerce sites which will further offer services also in addition to items, he added.
The Government of Himachal Pradesh vide notification dated July 19, 2017 has brought an amendment in Rule-94 and Rule-112 of the HP Financial Rules-2009 and incorporate Rule 94-A “Purchase of Goods through GeM.” It has made mandatory to purchase above Rs 50,000 upto Rs 30 lakhs should be made through GeM. Since its launch last year, the shopping portal offers 3100 products in 56 categories. It also has a cab hailing service. GeM has already done a business of over Rs 38 crore and as more and more products get added, the volumes are expected to match some of the private e-commerce biggies. The GeM currently has 1129 registered government buyers, including 469 heads of departments, 1247 sellers and 56 service providers.
The source in the government admitted that the system has succeeded in stopping siphoning of public money where the ‘babus’ have the say. The government has rolled out the portal. A full-blown rollout is working, says the official. The portal was architected by the department of electronics and information technology. A professional IT services provider was roped in for the project and the portal will have with several payment options.
The department is tasked primarily with fixing Rate Contracts (RC) for common user items required by the various departments of the Administration through an online e-procurement portal. Presently, rate contracts are used by Central Government Ministries / Departments, PSUs and State Governments. Working as a one stop Government e-Marketplace (GeM) to facilitate on line procurement of common use items and services required by various Departments in clear, quick and transparent way.
Ajrun Dev, Deputy Director, Higher Education, Chandigarh that the portal has enhanced transparency, efficiency and speed in buying standard while removing discretion at ‘Babus’ end and also eliminating potential corruption in purchase. It provides a tool for demand aggregation to facilitate the department to achieve the best value for the money.
Though no one has an exact figure yet officials guess that between 10 per cent and 20 per cent of any government department’s routine expenditure is on sundry supplies and services. The official further disclosed that expenses on commonly used office items ranges between 10 to 15 per cent of its non-plan expenditure and savings from digital marketplaces may be to the tune of 20 per cent compared to legacy contacts.
The department can buy goods and services online, as and when required in a transparent way; continuous vendor rating system with user/seller-friendly dash board for buying/selling and monitoring supplies and payments. The officials have been trained and prepped to use Government e-Marketplace, or GeM. It eventually offers hundreds of products such as laptop, computers and photocopiers and services such as cab hiring and housekeeping to government departments which currently buy them through rate contracts or yearly tenders handed out to vendors and service providers after competitive bidding..
The Centre’s non-Plan expenditure for this fiscal year is about Rs 15 lakh crore. That would mean a market of Rs 1.5 lakh crore at the low end of the estimate. According to Internet and Mobile Association of India and IMRB, India’s entire e-commerce market at the end of December 2015 was worth Rs1.25lakh crore.