Online bidding is VN’s future

Update: February, 10/2018 - 09:00
Phạm Thy Hùng
Viet Nam News

Phạm Thy Hùng, director of the Public Procurement Agency under the Ministry of Planning and Investment, speaks to the newspaper Thời báo Kinh tế Việt Nam (Việt Nam Economic Times) on the need to further promote online bidding

Will you tell us some new points contained in the Circular 04/2017 issued by the Ministry of Planning and Investment on the selection of bidders through online bidding?

The Circular 04 has two new salient points.

First, applies to the first-stage bidding package with two paper dossiers relating to consultancy services, consultancy fees, goods procurement and others.

Second, under the Circular 04, there are seven forms which are classified into three sets of documents. The first set has three forms which are used for online public bidding projects; the second set also has three forms for online bidding packages, but with a guiding principle of one stage - one set of dossier; and the seventh form is applied to all competitive bidding packages which require simple bidding procedures.

What advantages will be enjoyed by contractors after Circular 04/2017 comes into force?

In my opinion, the most striking point in the Circular 04 is the standardisation of all the dossiers. In the past, tending documents are all in word files – PDF attachment. But now, the potential contractors only have to fill in the web forms which are available in the system. The system will then calculate and come up with the offer - price and other related data. Furthermore, the noble idea of the online bidding is that if in the past the optimum data contained in the bidding quotation must not surpass 20 MB, it is now raised to 100 MB.

All transactions between the project owner and tenderers will automatically notify all parties. This is considered as a novel element of the bidding process for the tenderers as they don’t have to be online all the time in order to update the required information.

Do you expect that such a change will make the bidding process easier than in the past?

In reality, online bidding in the recent past mostly focused on small scale projects with competitive offers, or on concentrated procurement or on consultant packages.

Though the Circular 04 containing many standard forms on non-consultancy packages or construction contracts with a hope to promote the online bidding activity, it doesn’t receive positive responses from bidders. One of the reasons is a construction contract often contains many drawings which are difficult to transmit online. Meanwhile, a consultancy or procurement contract is simply in word form.

But, there is a saying: if there is a will, there is a way. Some provinces like the provinces of Thái Bình, Gia Lai and Đồng Tháp have implemented the change. I’m confident that pretty soon bidding online will become popular in our country.

What should we do to speed up the online bidding process for large scale construction projects?

As we all know, cheating cannot be done in online bidding. But for a big project, valued up to thousands of billion of đồng, it will be very complicated. So in my opinion, online bidding is more suitable for consultancy contracts or concentrated procurements. The reason is very simple: as their bidding dossiers are simple, so is the cost calculation. For a construction package, it is very complicated.

Many people have raised the idea of having BOT projects use online bidding. However, in my own opinion, right now it is not feasible to have BOT projects to be subjected to online bidding. In my opinion, certain stages of a BOT project could use online bidding, for example the list of project items, bidding offering and others. To my understanding, at present no country in the world has applied online tendering for a BOT contract. — VNS