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Public procurement amendment approved, opposition cites risks
19 Mar 2013 Flash News
Public procurement rules will change as of July 2013. On Tuesday, March 19, the Slovak parliament approved the draft amendment filed by the Interior Minister Robert Kaliňák, with 85 out of 150 votes. Its final wording was a result of numerous changes - 80 in total - which were strongly influenced by comments from the government, experts and others, and most of which were prepared by the parliamentary economic committee.
Among the changes was the original idea that the Finance Ministry should permit exemptions for sub-limit orders to be procured without tenders. In the final version, the whole government will decide on exemptions, the TASR newswire wrote. The limit of exemptions for construction works outside the rules for public procurement was reduced, too: from the original €5 million to €200,000. The exemption will also be effective for the purchase of goods or services under €130,000 – or €200,000; as well as when paying for art performances or musical instruments, due to the special nature of these services or goods.
The amendment, which remained open for comments and changes for nearly nine months, also includes the launch of internet profiles for companies who bid on tenders, which will be free of charge, publicly accessible and transparent in terms of showing the whole cycle of procurement, from competitive documents to the evaluation of the competition. A notification module will be sent automatically to potential bidders, providing information on the tenders announced.
A fundamental change that is expected to bring more transparency is the establishment of an “electronic marketplace” for procurement of common goods, services and construction works for so-called sub-limit orders. Kaliňák also deems important the possibility of concluding contracts with the second or third best bidder if the winner does not fulfil the conditions and is thus unable to sign the contract.
The opposition has criticised a large portion of the changes and called the amendment chaotic, and slammed the centralisation of public procurement. They also question whether the amendment will result in a higher level of transparency and if it will benefit the public, claiming that the space for competition in public procurement has been narrowed.
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