Developing public procurement tenders online as is done in most other countries is seen as a means to make the process more transparent. However, in a recent seminar on electronic tenders, Nguyen Viet Hung, director of the tender management department under the planning and investment ministry analysed difficulties in capital sources for development of the tender information system, incomplete qualification of tender staff and particularly, lack of legal regulations on electronic signatures, electronic commerce are big challenges for wishes to soon introduce electronic tenders in Vietnam.
In fact, contractors as well as investors have spent a great amount of cost applying information technologies into tenders and tender management. Establishment of websites and investment into infrastructure facilities, internet network, transactions made via email and others are very common activities of Vietnamese contractors at present. “Although issuance of bid invitation documents, submission of bid documents and contract signing via internet have not been implemented in Vietnam, some Vietnamese businesses such as Phong Phu Textile Co, Thang Loi Co under Vietnam Textile and Garment Corp (Vinatex), some subsidiaries of PetroVietnam and others have ever participated and won international tenders,” added Hung.
As a matter of fact, so far exchange of information related to tenders has been made mainly via written documents, telephones, fax, email and other mass media.
The Vietnam Public Procurement newly issued by the planning and investment ministry every two weeks from December 14 is considered as a good measure for requirements on unifying tender information in a bid to expand capacity of accessing to tender packages. This is a non-profit publication and all information is free of charge. However all contractors said that the most important and efficient measure to meet requirements on transparency in tender is to build a website on tenders and later an electronic tender system in Vietnam.
As assessed by contractors who ever participate into online tenders, an important interest of electronic tenders is to promote efficiency and transparency of tenders as well as tender management which Vietnam tender activities are attempting to reach. According to Jae-Yong Lee, director of the information management board under Korean Public Procurement Bureau, thanks to application of electronic tenders, Korea saved US$2.8 billion of annual transaction fees of which US$2.5 billion is commercial cost for time and transport. “Such tender method has promoted fair competition by expanding opportunities of tender participation and minimised direct contacts between businesses and officials,” added Lee. What is of great importance is that tender management bodies and people can save time, transport cost, any time, they also can search information on public procurement via the electronic tender system. “Only when the electronic tender system is established, will people’s confidence into transparency of the tender system be improved,” confirmed an official in charge of tenders of Korea.
Clearly, advantages of transparency in electronic tender activities has been proved in Korea. Participation of non-state businesses into public procurement packages is increasing because of widespread information publicising. Even foreign contractors as well as businesses in Vietnam are also able to study information and attend tenders in Korea by clicking mice of computers.