The go-ahead given to the Public Procurement Bill, though belatedly, is a welcome move taken by the Central government to keep a tab on the graft-laden state purchase mechanism. Though the Prime Minister had promised to bring legislation in this regard long time back, it is hard to understand why the government took so long to clear the Public Procurement Bill, especially when a volley of allegations are being leveled against the ruling dispensation at the Centre that it shows slackness in curbing corruption. Still, there is a long way to go as the Bill has only got the approval of the Cabinet and is yet to be finalized for taking the form of a law. In fact the final decision on the Bill will be taken by the Parliamentary Committee. Making an anti-corruption law is easy but its implementation is a tough task. According to the Public Procurement Bill, purchases worth over Rs 50lakh will be made transparent. Moreover, contractors found guilty of bribing government officials to gain contracts will be blacklisted and debarred from the process. Similarly, provisions have been made to punish those government officials found guilty of taking bribe. Remarkably, government purchases to the tune of over Rs 50 lakh will no longer be sanctioned by Ministers and the concerned department. Government purchases were always mired in controversy as the Ministers and bureaucrats used to determine it. Only time will tell whether the role of Ministers and bureaucrats will be abolished or not?

Another facet to the story is that contractors are perfect craftsmen when it comes to making holes in the system. So it is important that we make stringent laws to keep a tab on government officials sitting at the helm of affairs. It can be checked only when senior officials take rigorous action against corrupt practices. Unfortunately there aren’t many such officers. This can be gauged from the fact that most of the scams carried out in the recent past bear the stamp of senior officials. Therefore, it is clear that merely giving its nod to the Public Procurement Bill will not do for the government, rather it has to ensure that the Bill becomes a law.