SINGAPORE - Defending the National Parks Board's (NParks) decision to purchase 26 Brompton foldable bicycles for its officers, National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan yesterday said it was "thought to be a simple and effective way to raise staff productivity". His comments came after a Lianhe Zaobao article last week on NParks' purchase of the bikes, each costing S$2,200.
Writing in his blog, Mr Khaw said he wondered if the statutory board had made the right decision and asked NParks and a few regular users of foldable bikes for their views.
NParks explained that the demand on its staff to do field inspections has gone up "sharply" with each staff in the Park Connector division covering 30km to 40km a day, said Mr Khaw.
Providing staff with bikes was thought to be a simple and effective way to raise staff productivity, he said, as it enables the officer to cover more ground and do more inspections within the same time. A foldable bike would also eliminate the need for an office van to transport the bikes and the staff to the areas of their daily rounds, he noted.
"A good foldable bike is hence considered an appropriate equipment for such staff. It offers us maximum operational flexibility in terms of usage and deployment," Mr Khaw wrote.
He further added that NParks clarified it "had no particular brand in mind" and "was open to considering all brands". However, at the close of the quotation, only one vendor responded with two options, offering Brompton and another brand at a higher price.
After some research, NParks proceeded with buying the bicycles as the bid price was lower than the listed retail price of the same model.
While NParks bought the right equipment, Mr Khaw said NParks "might have gotten a better deal if there was greater participation in this quotation". "I have asked MND staff to discuss this case with our agencies, to see if there are lessons which we can draw from this case," he added.
"In all purchases we should always satisfy the criteria of 'value for money' when public funds are involved."
05 July 2012