AmCham Bulgaria, BBBA, Confindustria Bulgaria and World Bank Group organized a joint round-table discussion focused on the new legislation of the public procurement system of Bulgaria. The event was motivated by the World Bank and its recent assessment of the public procurement system in Bulgaria in the context of the implementation of the new legislation from April 2016 to date, as well as to gather feedback from the business with regard their concern and recommendations.
The event was opened by Petar T. Ivanov, Executive Director, AmCham, Dessislava Miteva, Executive Director, British Bulgarian Business Association, Maria Natseva, Vice President, Confindustria Bulgaria, and Zlatina Ruseva-Savova, AmCham Board Member and Co-Chair, Public Procurement & EU Funding Advisory Committee.
In her opening remarks Ms. Ruseva-Savova pointed out such initiative is a good opportunity for the U.S., other foreign and Bulgarian companies to share their experience, as their ‘voice’ may be brought to the Bulgarian Public Procurement Agency (“Agency”)and the Government by the World Bank through its upcoming Report with recommendations for improvement of the implementation of the Bulgarian Public Procurement Act of 2016.
Zlatina Ruseva-Savova raised major issues that both foreign and domestic branded high-tech and knowledge-intensive high-value added businesses face while bidding in public procurement award procedures in the country. Also, she proposed the following improvement measures:
- National-level comprehensive and practically oriented training of the competent state and municipal administration to be deployed in a way to achieve the target level of capacity and expertise.
- Bulgaria to take advantage of various opportunities provided under Directive 2014/24/EC and Directive 2014/25/EC, for example to provide in Art. 70 of the PPA that: (a) “contracting authorities may not use price only or cost only as the sole award criterion or restrict their use to certain categories of contracting authorities or certain types of contracts.”, which we find vital in terms increasing the competitiveness of the Bulgarian economy, e.g. while purchasing branded innovative (biological or bio-similar) drugs, or high-quality technology accompanied by the appropriate training and calculated based on its life-cycle (based on Article 67, Para. 2, Subpara. 3 of Directive 2014/24/EC and Art. 82, Para. 2, Subpara. 3 of Directive 2014/25/EC); and (b) Award criteria “shall ensure the possibility of effective competition and shall be accompanied by specifications that allow the information provided by the tenderers to be effectively verified in order to assess how well the tenders meet the award criteria. In case of doubt, contracting authorities shall verify effectively the accuracy of the information and proof provided by the tenderers” (based on Article 67, Para. 4, second sentence of Directive 2014/24/EC and Art. 82, Para. 4, second sentence of Directive 2014/25/EC).
- The Agency to become directly subordinate to the Government, for example to a Deputy Prime Minister, as currently it is subordinate to the Ministry of Finance, which de facto has no powers in the field of public procurement.
- The Agency to promptly issue so-called ‘methodological instructions’ with business-wise and grounded opinion.
- The practice on the implementation of Bulgarian public procurement law to be kind of unified, including by legislatively setting that the Agency shall provide common and specific guidelines to the contracting authorities and summarizing and unifying case law and practice of the Commission for Protection of Competition.
The discussion was enriched by the expertise of Mr. Pavlin Stoyanoff’s, Managing Associate, Energy, Resources & Industrials, Deloitte Legal Law Firm, and he made a strategic overview of the work of the Committee, and the identified problem areas.
Mr. Stoyanoff made the following remarks.
- Public authorities need dedicated professional purchasing teams, that must be stimulated to work better and efficiently by normal business incentives (bonuses, knowledge building, career growth etc.).
- Public authorities need to work internally on building standard documents and develop automation tools to make procurement process faster, cheaper, more transparent, and defects-free.
- Public authorities need to join efforts, in smaller and bigger clusters, and work together to achieve the above and the overall public procurement goals.
The World Bank representatives thanked the three chambers for making this event happening and for the valuable discussion. They agreed to have an ongoing constructive dialog on the process for public procurement system improvement.
At the end Ms. Ruseva-Savova closed the event by emphasizing that the Bulgarian market has no needs to be further liberalized as there still exist various barriers to trade, as well as transparency and the administration’s capacity could be enhanced.
The discussion was moderated by Mr. Svetoslav Rizov, Telelink.