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Efficient management of the government’s budget was essential to strengthen the economy and improve the government’s procurement process, said by a senior official from Deputy Minister of Finance, Dr Bounleua Sinxayvoravong. He was speaking at the launch of the Lao public procurement website, supported by the EU through the World Bank.

The objective of the website is to improve the government’s procurement process and standardise and regulate the procedures involved. Dr Bounleua instructed the State Asset Management Department to comply with the law when using the website, which he said would save the government about 10-15 percent of the money currently spent during the procurement process.

The Law on Public Procurement is based on World Bank support for the management of government finances, with work in this regard partly funded by the EU.

The launch was also attended by World Bank Country Manager to Laos Mr Alexander Kremer, EU Ambassador to Laos Ms Ina Marciulionyte, officials from the Ministry of Finance and line ministries, and representatives of donor partners. Speaking at the launch, Mr Kremer said he hoped that use of the website would lead to increased competition in the delivery of value for money to Lao citizens.

The website will be an important avenue for citizens to have a voice in government contracts, provide decision makers, academics and researchers with access to critical information for analysis, allow bidders to complain when necessary, and above all, make available to all procuring entities the complete set of public procurement legal documents and the full menu of standard procurement documents, guidance, and manuals.

This will assist government institutions across the country, such as ministries, state-owned enterprises, schools, hospitals, provinces and districts, to efficiently apply the Public Procurement Law. The introduction of the website comes just one month after the launch of the Lao Civil Service Code of Ethics with the Ministry of Home Affairs. The EU has been supporting public finance management reforms in partnership with the World Bank since 2016.

The adoption of digital technology is expected to increase transparency, open competition, efficiency and fairness in government administration.

The EU believes that increased transparency in public procurement in Laos will enable more European companies to participate in public bids in the country. The EU will continue support with the World Bank and Australia under the next public finance management programme, which will start at the end of this year. Given the current extremely challenging economic situation, it is recognised that support for public finance management is essential, especially in terms of improving and increasing tax collection, and strengthening the efficiency of spending and public procurement.

Source: Vientiane Times