A Bloomberg media report stating how government purchases are going to be ‘Amazonised’ signals another surgical strike on Indian economy by Modi government. If the report had to be believed, all supplies in all government departments have to be procured through the online platform. This will bring to an end of all 60:40, 70:30 sharing between sanctioning authorities and suppliers. This move, if taken, will bring down the corruption level in government to almost nil ensuring transparency, with which India can make giant leap in the ranks, now 76th, of Transparency International. Like banning Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes, this will be another unprecedented and very bold move towards financial reforms by the Modi government.
The government departments doing e-purchase is a very good idea keeping in view the current deep-rooted corruption in government supplies. It’s only the corrupt officials and unscrupulous contractors who get benefited from the system. That’s why you will see swanky cars parked in front of rickety government offices inside which there is broken furniture, leaking roofs, stinking toilets, very low quality paper stationeries. The ‘poor’ office of rich people has been a common irony. The scenario will change if every government office goes for e-purchase.
But, now comes the hindrance, a big one. There are thousands, if not lakhs, of small suppliers, who will be out of business overnight if government makes e-purchase mandatory. A large section of them will never be able to come back to the business, just because of their lack of familiarity with the digital platform. Besides, for any small supply to a local office, they will have to compete with vendors from all over India. Suppliers in states of North-east will never be able to officer paper stationeries at rates on par with those based in Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata etc. In fact, at present, these local suppliers are buying things from the big traders in metros and supplying the same to the government. This ‘grey area’ in making e-purchase mandatory for government agencies cannot be overlooked, else it will create much serious trouble for the government than demonetisation, which has a considerable public support.
(Published as editorial in The Meghalaya Guardian on December 2, 2016)