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Elets Conference: From 1.2% five years back to almost 1.5% of the GDP is what we are spending on today: Joint secretary and Additional CEO, Government e-Marketplace (GeM)

S Suresh Kumar

Like in all other countries, in India too health sector plays a very pivotal role, in the sense that we have almost over 1.3 billion of population and the health sector in India is considered to be one of the critical sectors where there is still large scope of innovations, there is need for large investments and government spending as well. The good news is that over the time, the government spending is health sector is actually increasing. Though it is increasing very gradually but it’s a positive sign that it is increasing. From 1.2% five years back to almost 1.5% of the GDP is what we are spending on. If you take a look at the total procurement which takes place in the health sector, as far as the devices and the equipments are concerned it is estimated that it is almost to the tune of about 1lakh crore per year which is almost about 15 billion dollars per year is the procurement which happens in India. And if we add the drugs, vaccines and other items to it, it will be another 50 thousand crore; maybe another 7-8 billion dollar. So 25-30 billion dollar is the current procurement which happens in the health sector.

This is actually contributed by the private sector as well as the public sector. The estimated value of public procurement in the health sector 30-40 thousand crores per year. All the multi-specialty hospitals starting from AIIMS in Delhi to the PHCs (public health centres) in a remote village in the country. if you take the entire spectrum, the procurement of medical equipment devices around 30-40 thousand crores. Added to it there is another 25-30 thousand crores of drugs, vaccines and other consumerables which are also being procured. Current procurement system of our country with regards to government holds the perspective that their procurements are not efficient, not transparent, lot of corruption and lot other issues as well. Government e-Marketplace is one initiative which government of India has launched in 2016 to transform the public procurement in our country; not specific to health but the overall public procurement in the country.

In Government e-Marketplace, it is an online platform to make it simple and make the people understand that it is like any Amazon or Flipkart. However GeM too is a similar platform which is basically B to G platform. From the private sector, industry and manufacturing sector, government department procures many items. As far as the overall procurement is concerned, today GeM has transformed the public procurement through basically 3 aspects;

1. Bringing in transparency- it’s an online platform and a marketplace, so anybody who is registered onto the portal, be it a buyer or a vendor, or even not registered also; anybody can actually go onto the portal and see what are the products available, what is the place offered, what are the specifications.

2. Efficiency and speed- in a manual procurement system, whenever we want to make huge procurement, the general system is that a tender will be floated, a bid will be invited, quotations will be invited and the evaluation will be done by a technical committee within the department. But the scope of evaluation is limited to the limited number of tenders and bids received in that particular office.

3. Quality Assurance- end to end tracking from the place where it is manufactured to the last delivery point, we need to have end to end tracking, which is very difficult in a manual system. But today we have technology like block chain technology and AI. Though today in government sector it hasn’t been used much. Maybe medical and health sector is going to be the first sector where we are going to employ AI and block chain technology to ensure the tracking of the medical equipment and including drugs and other items.

To all the manufacturers who are still not registered on the GeM portal, please get registered> the process is pretty easy and seamless.

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