Envisioning strategic procurement for a Sustainable and Resilient Pakistan

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Since after independence particularly after the 60s, Pakistan was remained engulfed under the storm of external forces including uninterrupted foreign interventions, indefinite repercussions of war on terror, consistent political unrest, poor legislative and social empowerment, and now the stubbornly prevalent Covid-19 Pandemic which is responsible for the death toll of over millions and paralysis of 56000 business sectors globally. The Post Covid-19 Pandemic realities have reminded mankind that survival is not for the fittest but for the agile and resilient nations. In this context, the full-throttled anticorruption drive of the Govt and bringing the inflammable economic indicators back to positive levels, including the recently announced stimulus incentive package of Rs 1.24 trillion for the revival of the economy is notably seen as unprecedented in history.

Notwithstanding the above, the role of Bahria, Shaheen Foundation, and Army Welfare trust in the uplift of social programs including health, education, agriculture, fertilizer and cement industry for the revamp of the civil economy of Pakistan is commendable. Nonetheless, Pakistan Navy 24/7 security cover for the successful accomplishment of CPEC projects at Gwadar port is plausible. The role of PN stands out to be predicatively sustainable, as Blue Economy is absolutely advantageous for Pakistan among other Asian/regional countries in terms of natural resources, fisheries, exploitation of coastal sights tourism, seaborne trade and source of seafood and energy. The said aspect has also been acknowledged by the Govt by declaring in February, year 2020 as the “Year of Blue Economy”.

As the Covid-19 pandemic has redefined that “Stability should never be taken for granted and unplanned event can invalidate the expectations of the most trusted partners”. In this backdrop, all the aforesaid civil-military sustainable/economic reforms be governed under the competency framework of best practices of procurement and supply chain lead by innovative leaders instead of traditional practices/managers to secure absolute/ competitive advantage for the business industry of Pakistan and its military power. In this context, Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply (CIPS) (UK) and Association of Supply Chain Management (ASCM) (USA) are the sole governing bodies that hold licensing authority in Procurement and Supply Chain respectively and their best practices /standards are being benchmarked globally. The role of CIPS (Pakistan) at Islamabad (subsidiary branch of CIPS UK) in highlighting the significance of the said practices/standards of CIPS for the private procurement and supply sectors of Pakistan is noteworthy. For Pakistan’s business industries and Military procurement and logistics sectors, championing the said global practices from the said institutions is a critical need of the hour. The best practices of (CIPS) UK evolve on the four basic pillars: Building Infrastructure and Market Intelligence, The Process, The Performance and The People Development.

In addition to the above, the government should now constitute a Sustainable Procurement Task Force comprising of Civil and Military professionals preferably (Chartered Procurement/Supply chain Professionals from International Bodies (preferably CIPS/ASCM Certified) responsible to draft a Pakistan Public Procurement and Supply Chain Directive to issue policy guidelines & SOPs on Procurement and Supply Chain for the Public (Military)/Private sectors of Pakistan. The draft may be inclusive (but not limited to) of the following recommendations.

 

Induction of Procurement and Supply Chain as a Major Subject in Education System of Pakistan: Procurement and Supply Chain must be inducted as a major business subject preferably at the matric level, equivalent to other compulsory subjects. This would certainly, strengthen the fundamental concepts of Procurement &Supply vis-â-vis Business & Finance of our future Supply Chain leaders, Economists, Business Analyst and Procurement Professionals in Civil and Military Sectors etc.

Practicing SOPs with full Governance and Authority: Ideally, each echelon of Supply Chain/Procurement is driven by its unique business process/activity based on Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs). However, in Pakistan the tendency of practicing “One Size Fit For All” and Re-inventing the wheel is most usually preferred over best practices, which tends to result in low ROIs (Returns on investments) in the business, thus directly affecting the growth rate of Pakistan against a current target of 2.5% as set by the Govt. Therefore, it is recommended that Procurement and Supply Chain Functions are to be practiced with appropriate SOPs and best practices with full governance and authority. The EU Public Procurement Directive should be seen as an example for ready reference.

The Power of Supplier-Buyer Partnership in Pakistan, unlike the developed countries i.e Euro area and the US, Supplier-Buyer Partnership is treated as Distributive Bargaining, which means one party is a winner over the expense of the other. This type of relationship is short-termed and does not offer value addition in product or desired service levels. Therefore, Integrated Bargaining is recommended as a best practice to secure a Win-Win situation both at the buyer and supplier end for achieving sustainable outcomes and service delivery.

The Critical Need of Sustainability:   Sustainability is now a gold coin of the post-pandemic era, where the consumer of 2020 has shouldered a great deal of responsibility on procurement teams and supply chains to deliver Value Added Service Delivery offering nonprice features i.e Renewable energy, Lowest Carbon footprints, Safety/Health, Innovation, Value for Money, Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), Time Scales, Shortest lead-times, lean management, and Reverse Logistics, etc. Therefore, the government must focus on the concept of Triple Bottom Line (People, Profit & Planet) (3Ps) instead of profits and low front cost respectively.

Effective Spend Management Methodology: As projected by IMF, Pakistan is in the grip of stagflation. The fund forecasted the growth rate of Pakistan at 1%, inflation at 8.8%, and current account deficit at 2.5% of GDP. In the post-Covid-19 era, global businesses are cash starved, seeking more liquidity and cash inflows, with deeper visibility and focus on the management of cash outflows and its spend management. Therefore, it is recommended that financial management methodology may be replaced with spend management in today’s increasingly competitive, dynamic and volatile supply-market.

The repercussions of Covid-19 Pandemic have compelled organizations to embrace the technological superiority over its competitors to confront unprecedented scenarios i.e. Shutdowns / Lockdowns for indefinite periods etc. The technological superiority may include i.e. Artificial intelligence (AI), Predictive Analytics, Machine Learning (Ml), Block Chain, Cloud and Internet of Things (IOT) etc. In this backdrop, it is strongly recommended that the National Supply Chain Framework (Civil/Military) may include such superiority to avoid supply disruptions, production halts and unpredictable slumps in the growth rate and service levels, while maintaining responsiveness and competitiveness with the flexible Commercial and Military Marts across the globe. 5. I am confident that in general, Business Industry of Pakistan will draw most of the useful from the aforesaid to reconfigure its Supply Chains as nimble, leaner and robust and to predicatively benchmark its Supply Chains and Procurement Methodologies with best practices of CIPS like professional bodies. This would augment the industry, with unfathomable opportunities to deliver most competitive, advantageous, secure, sustainable, agile and resilient logistics support for the best interest of Pakistan’s Economy, CPEC and various ongoing Strategic projects across the globe.

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