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Anti corruption clauses-hidden silver lining in government contracts

November 3, 2014

Anti corruption clauses are the hidden silver lining in government contracts.

 

Came across these clauses tucked within a Request for Proposal (RFP) for a project near Neemrana in Rajasthan. (RFQ-cum-RFP For Programme Manager For New Cities (PMNC) For Khushkhera- Bhiwadi- Neemrana Investment Region Under The Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor (DMIC) Project Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor Development Corporation Limited (DMICDC)

(ii) will reject the Proposal for award if it determines that the Applicant has engaged in corrupt or fraudulent activities in competing for the contract in question;

(iii) will declare an Applicant ineligible, either indefinitely or for a stated period of time, to be awarded a contract if it at any time determines that the Applicant has engaged in corrupt or fraudulent practices in competing for and in executing the contract.

 

I have often felt that contracts with governments are lopsided in favour of the government. And despite all the hue and cry about private sector being powerful, governments are vested with all decisions, and often cling to power and money with the tightest grip. Once a person has taken up work, and men and machines are deployed, there is little one can do except to hope that the payment comes. When there are delays and revisions, one is at the mercy of whims and fancies of any officer in charge. Often there are sensible people in charge. But at times, not. If there are transfers, as is common in present government structure, one needs to start all over again… It is a dark, burdensome place.

Specially in Rajasthan, where quality is difficult to achieve in any project remotely public. They have done international tendering for museums, restorations and heritage precincts. They have some beautiful hospitality projects. Their roads were once their pride, and some still are. But their rural infrastructure is in shambles. Their public agencies, municipalities, panchayats, PWD, RnB are in poor shape, mired by lack of capacities and by corruption. And mainly because the rot reaches all the way to the top. Poor infrastructure reflects an inherent weakness in governance, even with RTI. This is a time when speed-money is a term of the past, even the pay for your payment era is largely over, and Rajasthan is leading the race for ‘Pay Before Procurement Starts’.

So at a time such as this, contracts such as this are a cause for cheer. Firstly, there are more professionally drafted contract documents around now. Secondly, because of clear definition of scope, and the homework done on client side, there is less chance for confusion and more chances of success of contracted task. Finally, because such clauses are appearing clearly within contract documents, they can be taken up for implementation by any officer desirous to do so.

As a senior bureaucrat once mentioned: “It is up to us to enforce a behaviour once we have defined the rules of the game. We may not go by the letter in every case, and we may not have the mechanism to go after the rogues now – but once it is written in the contract, we can start any time.” With nearby Neemrana being pom-pomed as a future smart city, this appears as a ray of light at the end of a tunnel for Rajasthan.

 

 

 

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