The Competition Commission Brunei Darussalam (CCBD) through its Executive Secretariat at the Department of Competition and Consumer Affairs, recently organised a workshop series on ‘Fighting Bid-rigging in Public Procurement’ for Ministry of Health (MoH) officials.
The event which is part of CCBD’s advocacy initiative, is to promote a competition-aware culture among public officials in preventing bid rigging conducts while fostering ethical economic activity, in line with the enforcement of the Competition Order implemented in January this year.
The first workshop titled ‘Spot and Stop Bid Rigging’ took place at the ministry and brought together 30 officials from various divisions including procurement, finance, audit, pharmaceutical and hospitals from Tutong and Kuala Belait.
During the session, participants were provided insights on how to detect signs of tender collusion and how to design effective tender documents; procedures to minimise the risk of collusion in public tenders; and the introduction of e-procurement system, led by two competition experts and practitioners.
Senior Fellow to Melbourne Law School of Melbourne University Dr Hassan Qaqaya and Senior Legal Advisor to the Indonesia Competition Commission Mohammad Reza, discussed the concept of bid-rigging and warning signs that users should be paying attention to enable bid rigging to be detected at an early stage and relevant steps to be taken when the action is uncovered.
Drawing from experience, Mohammad Reza shared that Indonesia adopts an online procurement system (e-procurement) to address and prevent bid-rigging issues by ensuring transparency and accountability in the bidding process.
Moreover, participants were guided on several preventive measures to strengthen the tendering process including enhancing bidding transparency such as adding in a declaration clause that requires bidders to certify an independent bid.
Additionally, the workshop also provided an opportunity for participants to have a candid discussion on matters concerning public procurement process and procedures, which may unintentionally hinder competition to achieve value-for-money and favourable for collusion between competitors.
In addition to that, participants were also given a real case from Indonesia as an example, to apply the concept they had learnt and worked out a practical strategy on how to uncover bid-rigging.
During the session, the CCBD Executive Secretariat also emphasised that bid rigging, also known as collusive tender, is a serious violation of the Competition Order and after entering interest to tender, it is illegal to agree not to compete in a tender.
“It is the Commission’s priority to challenge and prevent bid rigging conducts, noting the potential significant harm to the consumers, the economy as a whole, and the financial burden to the government expenditure,” they added.
This priority is in line with the national agenda that highlights prudent spending and value-for-money public procurement.
The Executive Secretariat applauded the active participation and encouraged the officials to disseminate the information learnt with their colleagues in the ministry while calling for continuous cooperation to spot and stop bid-rigging to uphold the culture of value-for-money in public tender in safeguarding public expenditure.
The workshop concluded with the presentation of posters on ‘Fighting Bid Rigging in Public Procurement’ which outlines the key tips as preventive measures to minimize the risk of bid-rigging. – Azrina Zin
The Bruneian | BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN