Government pulls plug on Mer-Link

Costa Rica for years has had two purchasing systems. There was Mer-Link and Compre-Red. Each was digital, and government agencies would put their needs on the Web sites to solicit bids from vendors. This process was supposed to increase transparency. Some agencies used Mer-Link. Others used Compre-Red.

Having two competing systems seems to be silly, so President Laura Chinchilla decreed more than a year ago that Compre-Red, operated by the Ministerio de Hacienda, would be shut down and all purchasing would go through Mer-Link.

But then the government changed. Vice President Helio Fallas is in charge of the ministry now, and he likes Compre-Red.

In one of those directives that seldom get attention, it appears he has chosen to shut down Mer-Link instead.

That drew a comment Monday from Antonio Alvarez Desanti of the Partido Liberación Nacional lawmaker. He said that when both purchasing organizations made presentations to lawmakers, Mer-Link appeared to be the most professional.

He said he was concerned by the decision made by Fallas.

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