India on Thursday created a fresh barricade for China in its economic activities by amending the rules for bidders participating in public procurement.

It amended the General Financial Rules 2017 to enable imposition of restrictions on bidders from countries which share a land border with India on grounds of defence of India, or matters directly or indirectly related thereto including national security. As per the order any bidder from such countries sharing a land border with India will be eligible to bid in any procurement whether of goods, services (including consultancy services and non-consultancy services) or works (including turnkey projects) only if the bidder is registered with the Competent Authority.

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According to a Government statement, the Competent Authority for registration will be the Registration Committee constituted by the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT). Political and security clearance from the Ministries of External and Home Affairs respectively will be mandatory.

China, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Myanmar and Nepal share land borders with India. Though Srilanka is also a neighbour, it does not have land borders with India.

The Order takes into its ambit public sector banks and financial institutions, Autonomous Bodies, Central Public Sector Enterprises (CPSEs) and Public Private Partnership projects receiving financial support from the Government or its undertakings.

The statement mentioned that as State Governments play a vital role in national security and defence of India, the Centre has written to the Chief Secretaries of the State Governments invoking the provisions of Article 257(1) of the Constitution of India for the implementation of this order in procurement by State Governments and state undertakings. For State Government procurement, the Competent Authority will be constituted by the States but political and security clearance will remain necessary.

Relaxation has been provided in certain limited cases, including for procurement of medical supplies for containment of Covid-19 global pandemic till December 31, 2020. By a separate Order, countries to which the Government of India extends lines of credit or provides development assistance have been exempted from the requirement of prior registration.

The new provisions will apply to all new tenders. In respect of tenders already invited, if the first stage of evaluation of qualifications has not been completed, bidders who are not registered under the new order will be treated as not qualified. If this stage has been crossed, ordinarily the tenders will be cancelled and the process started de novo. The order will also apply to other forms of public procurement. It does not apply to procurement by the private sector, the statement said.

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