Allegations of irregularities in GeM baseless, motivated: Sitharaman

Amiti Sen New Delhi | Updated on January 15, 2018

Commerce Minister Nirmala Sitharaman


MP Ajay Nishad denied writing letter to Commerce Ministry pointing to corrupt practices in GeM

Dismissing Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala’s allegations of irregularities in the functioning of the Government e-Marketplace (GeM) as baseless and motivated, Commerce & Industry Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has said that vested interests were operating behind the malicious campaign.

The Minister, while answering questions at a press conference on Monday, however, said that the government will not go for an independent enquiry on the matter. “Why should there be an enquiry. We are clearly saying their allegations are false,” she said.

The Congress released letters by six BJP MPs and an Assam legislator on Friday to the Commerce Minister questioning the efficiency of the GeM and a couple of them stating that “technical and procedural shortcomings” had made it a “hub of corrupt practices”causing losses to buyers and the government.

Sitharaman said that the MP Ajay Nishad had already denied that he had not written the letter ascribed to him and that it was forged. “It has to be brought to one’s notice that portions of the letter allegedly written by Nishad were identical to the letter written by MP Ashok M Nete (Gadchiroli-Chimur),” the Minister said hinting at foul play.

The letters from Nishad (which he says was not written by him) and Nete were the most damning stating that while the GeM was launched to bring transparency in the government procurement process, inherent technical and procedural problems had made it a hub of corrupt practices for sellers and buyers.

The Minister added that the letters written by the six BJP MPs did not contain allegations of corrupt practices. They all requested extension of software, storage, networking and security services items on rate contract instead of moving to GeM. “There is nothing wrong with this kind of request. They have not charged us with malpractice,” she said.

The items for which Surjewala has given GeM rates and e-Commerce portal rates are different items with varying specifications and they cannot be compared, Sitharaman said. “On the contrary, GeM rates are much lower than market rates and the government has made a saving of over ₹ 100 crore in the total procurement of about ₹ 450 crore so far taken place through GeM,” the Minister said.

GeM is the first government portal that places all the procurements—big or small—by government organisations in public domain, with details about the buyer, seller, item, quantity and price. “It is a totally transparent system with 100 per cent traceability,” Sitharaman said.

Published on April 24, 2017

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