Draft rules to protect bidding process

Updated: 2011-12-01 07:40

By Wang Huazhong and Zhao Yinan (China Daily)

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BEIJING - A draft regulation on the implementation of the Tendering and Bidding Law was reviewed and approved at an executive meeting of the State Council on Wednesday, as the government looks to guarantee an open and fair process for procuring public projects.

"Passing the draft is dealing with the issues, such as authorities illegally soliciting bids and offering fake invitations to tender, leaders abusing their power to interfere in the process, and bidders colluding (with authorities) to unfairly win projects," read a statement on the gov.cn website.

The new regulation forbids applying different standards on qualification checks for bidders. It also stipulates that no specific requirements should be set on patents, brands, suppliers or bidders' earlier performances.

As well as protecting the rights and fairness of the tendering process, the draft also clarifies what projects should be subject to public bids, standardizes the bid assessment process and forbids illicit maneuvers between authorities and bidders or among rival bidders.

Liu Hui, a government procurement expert and president of the University of International Relations, said that as China has grown economically and fiscally strong, it has invested heavily into infrastructure.

"Therefore, the public and bidders are focused on fair competition," Liu said. "They expect better procedures that prevent corruption and the loss of State assets."

In Pingxiang, Jiangxi province, 22 officials and 100 companies were found last year to have colluded over a project worth 200 million yuan ($31.3 million). The city's discipline and inspection authority has investigated 20 similar cases within a year.

Yang Hongshan, a professor of public funds and policy at Renmin University of China, said illegally inviting or awarding project bids runs contrary to the central government's drive to build its credentials.

"The draft regulation is needed to supplement and interpret the more than a decade-old law because, as corruption cases have shown, malpractice in the process has failed public expectation," Yang said.

Lu Jianzhen, director of the management office for Kunshan Construction Project Bidding in Jiangsu province, said she believes that, as bidding rules and regulations have been constantly improved, fewer people have been able to manipulate the "transparent and standardized" process.

"Bidders colluding to raise a project's value or win a project was once the most prominent issue," she said. However, Lu said that her office, and others in Jiangsu, have worked with Party discipline authorities to introduce electronic bidding platforms to ensure fairness and transparency.

"In the past, it was difficult to collect evidence against corruption, as the procedure was conducted manually," she said. "Now, we use a technology-aided platform that publicizes information on the bidding process for public scrutiny."