Wednesday, September 27, 2023
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Bid rigging in public procurement a serious offence

Lyna Mohamad

Bid rigging in public procurement is a serious offence under Section 11 of the Competition Order 2015, which carries a fine of a penalty of up to 10 per cent of business turnover for a maximum period of three years. Bidders in public tenders must compete by submitting bids independently, without coordinating, communicating or conspiring with competitors to limit or eliminate competition in the bidding or tendering process.

The Competition Commission Brunei Darussalam (CCBD) highlighted this during the bid rigging dialogue recently, attended by the management and senior officers from the Department of Roads at the Public Works Department (JKR), Ministry of Development, and JKR Acting Director General Ir Haji Mohammad Salleh bin Haji Abdul Karim.

Senior CCBD members present included Legislative Council member and CCBD Chairperson Yang Berhormat Nik Hafimi binti Abdul Haadii and Commissioner Mohammad Harris bin Brigadier General (Rtd) Dato Paduka Haji Ibrahim.

The dialogue elucidated that bid rigging is a form of collusive or cartel activity with uncompetitive business practices that unlawfully prevent or reduce competition in a marketplace. Fighting against bid rigging in public procurement has been a priority of the CCBD work plan and will continue to be the key agenda in 2022, due to its implications, not only in the wastage of government resources, but can also discourage entry by competing businesses, and erode confidence in the competitive procurement processes.

The closed-door dialogue session was part of the CCBD Bid Rigging Awareness Campaign that kicked off in December last year, with the objective of equipping public officials with knowledge to deter, detect and report bid rigging conduct to the CCBD. This is to ensure tendering or bidding processes are competitive to achieve its intended outcome of good value for money, efficient use of government resources, and to uphold prudent government spending.

Director of Competition and Consumer Affairs cum Head of Executive Secretariat to the CCBD Heidi Farah Sia binti Abdul Rahman led the interactive dialogue, while Officer-in-Charge of Investigation Anisah Syakirah binti Haji Anwari provided examples from real cases to help attendees gain understanding in detecting suspicious bid manipulation practices and when to report potential collusive behaviour to the CCBD for further assessment or investigation.

The attendees were reminded that prevention is better than cure and hence it is important to first adopt practical steps to prevent collusive tenders, which starts with designing a pro-competition tender.

Procurement officials can file a report to the CCBD by providing information and documents if bid rigging conduct is suspected, including tender bids, correspondences as well as record of suspicious behaviours and statements.

The bid rigging dialogue in session. PHOTO: CCBD
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