The Central government’s initiative to provide a platform—Government e Market (GeM)—to ministries to buy items online has attracted traders from across the country, with more than 72,000 of them now registered with it. The portal—under the Suresh Prabhu-led Ministry of Commerce—which became operational around a year ago, now has more than 72,000 sellers and service providers registered with it, with an order value of Rs 4,145 crore. They are offering more than 4.46 lakh products and services to different ministries and to certain state governments. It is to be noted that the public procurement of Central and state governments are to the tune of Rs 5 lakh crore annually.
The portal was started after the Ministry closed down its nearly 100-year-old public procurement arm, the Directorate General of Supplies and Disposals (DGS&D). In the new format, any ministry can place online tenders for products/items like ACs, almirahs, furniture, printers etc., or for different services on the portal and buy these directly from the sellers/service providers.
“It’s a transparent system and there is least human interface in vendor registration, order placement and payment processing. It is quite easy to do business here. We don’t have to run around officers for getting contracts as was the case earlier,” said a trader, who has registered himself for GeM. Notably, all the activities, from registration of buyers and sellers to purchase and even payment to the sellers, are completely online.
The prices listed by any seller are visible to all the registered buyers. Moreover, in order to promote transparency, the bidding notices are sent to all the sellers who are available on GeM through email/SMS and notice on the homepage of GeM. All the contracts are available in the public domain.
The portal, which was recently revamped, has the best international features like catalogue management, product categorisation, central management, data analytics, refund and rejection policy. It gives umpteen choices to buyers and sellers alike.
Sources said procurement of goods and services by ministries/departments of the Central government has been made mandatory for goods or services available on the GeM. Therefore, business on GeM is likely to increase more in the coming days.
At present, GeM is not mandatory for state governments. It is left to their discretion whether or not to procure through GeM. However, many state government organisations have started procuring their necessities through the portal, including Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Kerala, Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, Haryana, Gujarat, Rajasthan and Maharashtra.