The Competition Commission Brunei Darussalam (CCBD) through its Executive Secretariat at the Department of Competition and Consumer Affairs, kicked start a workshop series on "Fighting Bid-Rigging in Public Procurement", to raise awareness of bid-rigging as well as to educate public officials on how to detect and prevent bid-rigging in public tenders.
The workshop series is part of the Competition Commission's advocacy initiative to promote a competition-aware culture among public officials in preventing bidrigging conducts and foster ethical economic activity, in line with the enforcement of the Competition Order January this year.
Featuring "Spot and Stop Bid Rigging", the first workshop which took place at the
Ministry of Health was attended by nearly 30 representatives from various divisions in the Ministry including procurement, finance, audit, pharmaceutical and hospitals from Tutong and Kuala Belait.
The workshop session provided insights on how to detect signs of tender collusion and how to design effective tender documents; procedures to minimize the risk of collusion in public tenders; and the introduction of e-procurement system.
During the opening, the Executive Secretariat of the CCBD underscored that bid rigging, also known as collusive tender, is a serious violation of the Competition Order and after entering interest to tender it is illegal to agree not to compete in a tender. It is the Commission's priority to fight and prevent bid rigging conducts noting the potential significant harm to the consumers, the economy as a whole, not to mention the financial burden to the government expenditure. This priority is in line with the national agenda that emphasizes on prudent spending and value for- money public procurement.
Led by two competition experts and practitioner, Dr Hassan Qaqaya, Senior Fellow to Melbourne Law School, Melbourne University and Mr Mohammad Reza, Senior Legal Advisor to the Indonesia Competition Commission, the workshop covered an extensive discussion on the concept of bid rigging and warning signs that the procurement officers should be paying attention to enable bid rigging to be detected at an early stage and relevant steps to be taken when bid rigging is uncovered.
Drawing from Indonesia's experience, Mr Mohamamad Reza shared on Indonesia's experience in adopting online procurement system, also known as eprocurement, which has been widely used to address and prevent bid-rigging issues by ensuring transparency and accountability in bidding process. The participants were guided on several preventives measures to strengthen tendering process including enhance bidding transparency such as, adding in declaration clause that require bidders to certify an independent bid.
The workshop also provided an opportunity for participants to have a candid discussion on matters concerning public procurement process and procedures, which may unintentionally hinder competition to achieve value-for-money and favorable for collusion between competitors.
To conclude the workshop, participants were given case exercise to apply the concept learnt and to work out practical strategy on how to uncover bid rigging with real case example from Indonesia.
The workshop ended with presentation of posters on "Fighting Bid Rigging in Public Procurement" which outlines the key tips as preventive measures to minimize the risk of bid rigging. The Executive Secretariat applauded the active participation of the MOH officials and encouraged officials to disseminate the information learnt with their colleagues in the Ministry, and called for continuous cooperation to spot and stop bid rigging to uphold the culture of value-for-money in public tender in safeguarding public expenditure.