Is the State Entrepreneurship Act working?

[ Junroi Mamai ]

As the number of the state’s educated unemployed people is increasing day by day, the avenues of income for the upcoming generation are becoming inversely lesser and more obscure. Either you hunt for government jobs or become a Class 4 or 5 category contractor (which is, evidently, the last refuge for sustenance for any youth who has failed to get a decent government job).
In view of the necessity to award contract works, where there is much competition in the bidding process, the state government has enacted the District Based Entrepreneurs and Professional Incentives Development and Promotional Act, 2015, in order to ensure equal opportunities for able bidders in all the categories – Class 1, 2, 3, 4, etc – so that the state’s economic resources and the fruits of development can be shared justifiably.
However, all the major works departments of the government undermine the act at the time of implementation. Government tenders are more or less a sham: either they are already fixed, or are offered in favour of selected individuals. Through power of attorney, most of the tender works are executed by big business firms which usually invest the money, and the profits are shared by the kith and kin of the MLAs concerned. In several cases, notified works’ bids are either completed or the works have already been started before inviting tenders, because inviting tenders happens to be a mandatory process.
If, with luck, anyone outside the nexus succeeds in getting a work awarded, the bidder would be offered only the firm charges, which is merely 3 percent of the total amount, by the department concerned. Advertisements of notices inviting tenders are circulated in the state dailies within a short timeframe, so that, technically, the ‘sales and receipt’ falls on non-working days, especially the weekends. Also, a number of bidders are denied contractual works over petty excuses. For example, Class 5 category contractors are asked to produce firm audit reports for at least three years from certified chartered accountants, which is impossible for any newly registered contractor, whereas, according to Section 4 of Clause (D) of the act, ‘Category 4 and 5 contractors shall be exempted from requirement for producing proof of completion report of works and similar type document in the last five years to qualify for participation in a tender.’
There have been a number of instances where contract works were awarded to selected enterprises which were registered in the names of local MLAs. While the central and the state governments promise zero tolerance towards graft, a few people holding public offices manipulate the government machinery for their own gains. It is clearly mentioned in the gazette notification of the act that each category of contractor is designated along with their eligibility for competitive bidding; however, bids from Class 1 firms are accepted for works designated for Classes 4 and 5 contractors. How can equal income opportunities be guaranteed to all if the rules are violated and manipulated to serve the interests of a privileged few?