Date: 17/11/2020

Amendments to Public Procurement Law aim to enhance procedural transparency

The new Public Procurement Law took effect on 1 July 2020, and AmCham members were now able to discuss the key innovations with the Public Procurement Office.

In aninety-minute panel discussion, moderated by Ivan Milošević of the Janković Popović Mitić law firm and Dušan Đorđević of Siemens d.o.o., Ivana Đenić, Acting Deputy Director of the Public Procurement Office (PPO), Mladen Alempijević, Head of the PPO Public Procurement Assessment and Development Unit at the PPO, Dragana Marić, Head of the PPO Negotiated Procedure Review Unit, and Dragan Cvijić, Head of the PPO Public Procurement Oversight Unit, endeavoured to answer a variety of questions concerning application of the new Public Procurement Law, especially its provisions designed to enhance transparency, promote competition, ensure a level playing field for bidders, and regulate how tenderers demonstrate eligibility for taking part in procurement procedures.

Transparency is a major objective of the new law, and the new Public Procurement Web Portal is a major step forward in ensuring transparency at all stages of the process. Digitalisation of procurement has facilitated the procedure, especially given the current pandemic. The online arrangements allow tenderers to submit bids via the Portal and make it much easier to find advertisements they may be interested in. The Portal has been overhauledand now offers new functions, such as filtering advertisements and free-of-charge registration to receive updates by e-mail. Opening of tenders can now take place on the Portal, and the numerous safeguards that reflect the relevant regulations minimise scope for error in procurements.

Transparency also promotes greater competition, which, in turn, requires researching the market. The panel concluded that market research deserves attention, and the PPO recommended tenderers investigated the competition, even though this is not a mandatory part of the procurement process. The Further improvement of Public Procurement System in Serbia Project has prepared a document outlining best practices from other jurisdictions that can be found on the Project’s microsite. The PPO invited AmCham members to provide feedback for additional enhancements.

Also discussed were the requirements and options for demonstrating eligibility for participation in procurement procedures and the reasons why a tenderer may be barred from participating. The panellists used numerous practical examples to illustrate the options available in the law and the benefits of the PPO’s guidance on proving eligibility.

The panellists also considered evaluation criteria such as lowest price only and most economically advantageous tender (MEAT). The PPO’s analysis reveals that in 90 percent of all cases the contract was awarded on the basis of price alone, with the remainder awarded using the MEAT criterion. This is why the new law endeavours to shift focus from lowest price only to MEAT. The Portal will display guidance for preparing tender documentation for standardised goods aligned with the new law. Tenderers will be able to see whether the contracting authority has prepared its tender documentation pursuant to the law and assess whether and what legal recourse they have at their disposal.

The roundtable allowed all participants to better understand the new law’s provisions and the rights and obligations of participants in procurement procedures. AmCham members were invited to provide feedback so as to promote effective implementation of the law.

Follow this link for video of the roundtable (in Serbian).