Transparency in purchases made by the State is the main barrier to combating corruption of public officials and the only way to ensure fair competition between suppliers.
In all Central American countries resistance to single platforms for government procurement is headed by public officials who thrive on the old systems of administration which kept processes and decisions regarding expenditure in the dark.
The Ministries of Health, Economics, Education and the Presidency were the first entities to start to comply with the presidential order issued in the middle of last year to use the Mer Link digital system for procurement processes of goods and services.
The Board of Directors of Consejo Nacional de Vialidad has not yet authorized the agency to use the electronic procurement system Mer -Link .
Although the National Roads Authority (Conavi) is now ready to use the electronic procurement system Mer -Link , the Board of Directors of the company has not granted permission, as they are still studying the contract.
The struggle between the two main systems used for Costa Rican government purchases could end with Mer-Link being the winner.
From a press release issued by the President of Costa Rica:
In order to facilitate the establishment of a National System of Public Procurement, the president of the Republic, Laura Chinchilla Miranda, signed this morning a guideline for all the institutions which make up the Civil Service to unify their methods of procuring goods and services.
A dispatch from the Government requesting the transfer of the procurement process to electronic format would order organize state purchases.
Elfinancierocr.com reports that "it remains with the Comptroller General (CGR), because it is aware of and has issued at least two audit reports on the subject, to determine some degree of responsibility for the large sums of money that have been invested over the years in the development of various electronic systems at the same time, in order to resolve, each one of them, the same need. "
In just a year and a half the Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad has saved $ 5.6 million by making purchases through the Mer-Link system.
According to an article in Nacion.com "At present, the Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad (ICE) handles 80% of its expenses in this way and its expected that this figure will reach 100% this year. If this goal is met, the institution’s savings would increase to $30 million. "
Mer-Link, a system that handles 80% of government purchases, is not able to grant awards because of a legal action brought by the competing system CompraRed, which is also state run.
Hundreds of purchases involving amounts of millions of dollars and which are vital for state agencies such as the Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad, the University of Costa Rica and the National Insurance Institute, have been paralyzed.
Costa Rica's government has launched the use of digital signatures, but warns that the growth of its use will depend on its incorporation by the private sector.
The digital signature binds the identity of a person or team with a message or electronic document, to ensure authorship and integrity. The recognition of digital signatures provides security for electronic transactions, promoting e-commerce.
Reveal Real Estate is dedicated to improving the transparency of the international real estate market in Central America by putting data in the hands of consumers.
Operates in Costa Rica, Nicaragua and Panama
Phone: (302) 353 4505
The Central American Business Council is a London-based organisation which is working to increase significantly the current levels of trade and investment between the UK and Central America.
Operates in Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, Central America and Dominican Republic
Phone: (0044) 207 583 8739