Covid-19 urgency meant some sourcing did not go via GeBiz: Indranee

GIVEN the urgency of tackling the Covid-19 pandemic, the government obtained some necessary goods and services via emergency procurement, rather than through the default government procurement portal GeBiz, Second Minister for Finance Indranee Rajah said in Parliament on Friday in response to a question from Nominated Member of Parliament Walter Theseira.

GeBiz remains the default process. However, government procurement rules allow for emergency procurement, where government agencies can directly contract suppliers instead of going through open sourcing, she said. There are similar emergency provisions in countries such as Australia, New Zealand, the UK and the US.

To tackle the Covid-19 pandemic, government agencies had to obtain certain goods and services as quickly as possible. Such urgency meant it was not practical to go via GeBiz. This included quickly sourcing for and fitting out premises to house at-risk persons, as well as securing medical supplies.

As the situation improves and the urgency lessens, more sourcing will be carried out through the default practice of open sourcing, she added. She stressed that even in direct contracting, agencies must still assess that quotes from suppliers are reasonable, by comparing market benchmarks and taking into account time constraints and the worldwide market situation. All of this is subject to audit and compliance reviews.

The obtaining of hotel capacity for premises where individuals could serve their quarantine or stay-home notice, as well as fit-out works for dedicated Community Recovery Facilities and Community Care Facilities - with beds, partitions, and so on - were undertaken under emergency procurement, said Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong, in response to another question from Aljunied GRC MP and Workers' Party chief Pritam Singh.