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Premier gives advice on government procurement

Updated: Jan 2,2015 11:58 PM

Premier Li Keqiang offered suggestions to promote fair competition in government procurement.

He made the comments when he chaired an executive meeting of the State Council on Dec 31.

“Can we design a random selection system to choose experts who will take part in the review?” Li said, adding that the experts would not be advised about their role beforehand — which would mean that bidders would be unable to try to influence them.

New regulations concerning the Government Procurement Law aimed at promoting transparency and fair competition were approved at the meeting.

The Premier said that using government procurement more frequently — rather than getting everything done by the government — is an essential part of market reform as it involves purchasing services to encourage social forces.

He also said that the government should not decide which services to buy, as this could easily lead to corruption and rent-seeking — which is why a mechanism of expert review should be introduced.

“We also need a random selection system to choose from experts with professional knowledge and comply with the rules to be qualified to this review,” Li said.

The Premier had the opportunity to increase his understanding of a “two-way random system” during his visit to Tianjin Customs in September. He saw how a computer program was used to randomly select which goods would be inspected and who would inspect them. This meant that enterprises would not know who to address — if they wanted to influence decision-makers.

Li praised the system, saying it was creative and an effective way to prevent graft, and he also said that decision-making experts and other staff should not be appointed for a fixed period of time.

“Some experts complain that they are on the receiving end of a barrage of phone calls — and also get many letters — during the review process,” he said.

One participant in the State Council meeting, who had taken part in the review process, said some enterprises do everything possible to find out who is conducting the review — and they then fire sugarcoated bullets.

The Premier said that the country thus requires “strict regulations and rules to make sure these sugarcoated bullets will not hit their targets”.

He gave as an example the college entrance examination which is seen as a relatively fair system, as the anonymity of both teachers and students means that students do not know who will mark their paper and the teacher does not know whose paper they are marking.

At the end of the meeting, Li suggested that — in order to promote government procurement — the “random selection system” should be part of the regulations and rules — and severe punishment should be meted out for any violation.