• Date: Jul 2016

On July 26, 2016, GPP Bhutan conducted the 2nd Sensitization and Awareness Raising Programme on Green Public Procurement (GPP) for the members of Construction Association of Bhutan (CAB) in Thimphu.

A total of 22 participants (14 male and 9 female) representing large, medium and small categories of contractors attended the event. The overall aim of the programme was to introduce the concept of GPP, life cycle thinking and to augment the capacity of contractors (as suppliers) to respond to tenders that include environmental and social criteria.

The GPP Bhutan project has identified construction sector as a major driver of Bhutanese economy, thus the integration of GPP principles can contribute to the long term improvement in quality of constructions, assurance of value-for-money, enhance transparency, boost local employment and promote use of local raw materials in constructions.

Through the sustainability hotspot assessment of construction of roads and buildings, participants identified several hotspots that warrant attention. For instance, environmental disturbances through removal of vegetation, loss of farm lands, soil erosion, and noise, air and water pollution were recurring hot spots. On social front degradation of social values, out-migration, change in dietary habits were some of the hotspots identified.

Some of the pertinent issues that were discussed during the day-long programme were:

Quality of green goods and performance standards – Participants stated that there are a variety of LED bulbs and fixtures available in market and many of them are spurious therefore maintaining quality as we enhance efficiency of lighting is important. One participant pointed out that it is time our energy distribution companies (discoms) look at the issue of Minimum Energy Performance Standards (MEPS) of electricity transmission, generators and transformers to ensure maximum efficiency and value-for-money in the procurement of these vital inputs.

Quality control and oversight – One participant stressed on the need to revisit the policy of issuing of construction licenses to ensure contractors have the capacity and standards to deliver quality construction. They said that in the case of International Competitive Bidding (ICB) there also has to be adequate safeguards in place as there is a common malpractice whereby international bidders cut corners on the minimum resource requirements( machineries, technical people) in order to win bids (especially construction of roads).

Two stage process in tender evaluation – Another point of discussion among the participants was overemphasis on financial bid that undermines technical capabilities and track record of bidders. All contractors agreed that emphasis on ‘lowest bid’ seriously compromises construction quality. Further, participants pointed out that the practice of under-quoting to win bids is rampant and suggested to create a system that will automatically disqualify an ‘unreasonably priced’ bid to weed out bidders who quote low just to win the bid and cannot possibly deliver quality work.

Participants found the day-long event timely, relevant and important to reduce gaps between contractors and procurers of works, noting that there is room for improvement from both sides.

The GPP Bhutan project has similar awareness events are planned in Phuentsholing and Gelephu in September, 2016.

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