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China's railway bidding opens to local markets

(Xinhua)

08:17, May 21, 2012

Bids for railway contracts in China will open to local markets soon to ensure the transparency and fairness of the bidding process and prevent power-for-money deals, according to a document released on Sunday.

The document was released by the Ministry of Railways and the national office of the leading group on the management of outstanding problems in construction projects.

It instructs that the country's current railway project transaction centers, under the ministry and 18 railways bureaus, where bids are traded, are to be canceled.

Instead, all railway-related projects should enter "local public resources trading markets" in accordance with authorization or the location of the projects, according to the document, which described the move as "a significant transformation for China's railway projects' bidding management."

To echo it, bids for all large and medium-sized construction projects under the administration of the railways ministry went to the jurisdiction of the Beijing Engineering Construction Trading Center, a local market for project transaction, at the end of 2011.

The document said that the mechanism for regulating engineering tender should be reformed so as to ensure fairness, competitiveness and freedom from corruption.

Efforts should be made to "prevent officials' meddling in project bidding, collusion and trading power for money," it said.

Construction projects under the administration of 18 railways bureaus will enter local markets in two batches before the end of June, the document orders.

It also calls for strengthening supervision of railway project bidding and promoting electronic bidding as well as computer-facilitated, long-distance bid assessment.

Illegal charging of bidding fees or manipulating bidding would be met with severe punishment, it added.

Railway project bidding has been harshly criticized by the public after a crash involving two high-speed trains in east China's Zhejiang province killed at least 43 people and injured more than 200 others last July.

According to investigation results announced last December, malpractice and illegal contracts were found in the bidding process administered by the Ministry of Railways and its subordinate bureaus, which resulted in the failure of a train control system that had never undergone field testing before launch.

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