We thank all of our clients who joined us today for our first regional webinar focusing on Public Procurement in times of crisis. Please find here an overview of the questions asked from our team by the participants.
The questions were answered by our regional team of Public Procurement specialists: Kadri Härginen and Mario Sõrm in Estonia, Maria Rodich in Belarus, Raivo Raudzeps in Latvia and Laurynas Lukošiūnas from Lithuania.
Where information about Public Procurement tenders can be find by each country?
- Information about Public Procurements in Estonia is available here.
- Information about Public Procurements in Lithuania available here.
- Information about Public Procurements in Belarus available here.
- Information about Public Procurements in Latvia above EU threshold are here. More detailed information about these procurements, as well as smaller procurements, including the tender documents, can be found here. Information about the emergency procurements by the Ministry of Defence can be found here.
Have you noticed any illegal negotiated procedures related to COVID-19? Whether authorities are supervising these emergency tenders?
- Kadri Härginen: So far, in Estonia, we have not noticed any abuse of the negotiated procedure without prior notice. Kati and other contracting authorities have done a really good job so far, trying their best to verify the abilities and honesty of the participants.
- Maria Rodich: So far, no illegal negotiated procedures related to COVID were reported in Belarus.
- Laurynas Lukošiūnas: So far, no illegal negotiated procedures related to COVID were reported in Lithuania. However, some complains were expressed publicly that not all potential tenderers are being invited. We encourage the contracting authorities to do proper market research and the tenderers to be active in offering the things potentially needed.
- Raivo Raudzeps: So far in Latvia we have not noticed illegal procurement procedures. However, information about the emergency procurements is very difficult to obtain and follow
For Latvia and Lithuania. How much do You see “tailor made” procurements in the market, meaning conditions very often match with specific tender.
- Laurynas Lukošiūnas: We would say that such cases are not dominating, but there are some bad examples. Our recommendation is act in these situation actively and raise appropriate questions to the Public Procurement Office and in courts. Case law is clear that there should be no “tailor made” procurements.
- Raivo Raudzeps: In Latvia contracting entities very often forward tailor-made requirements in their procurements. Standardized procurements still are rare although many professional associations try to help contracting authorities by developing guidelines for qualification requirements and/or technical specifications.
Could you please briefly describe the legal justification of Latvia approach not to apply the EU public procurement rules? What are the legal basis in EU law for such exemption in Latvia opinion?
- Raivo Raudzeps: The Government of Latvia has not announced it legal justification for non-application of the public procurement laws to the emergency procurements. My professional opinion is that the Government is seeing the possibility not to apply the EU-harmonised rules in areas where EU Member States still maintain their competency. I hope to learn the justification at a later stage.
Many companies face financial difficulties. It would help if States could purchase their products (instead of providing state aid) in times of need. Any possibilities not to apply procurement rules in such cases?
- Kadri Härginen: The solution could be to make a proposition to the State to initiate procurements to buy such goods (like Trump is now buying fuel, to help the fuel producers in the States). As the states are not obliged to buy anything, this would need a decision from the state side to start buying – so, from the tenderer’s side, it is hard to force the state to buy something.
- Mario Sõrm: In Estonia, there seem to be plans to generate growth through public projects, like infrastructure (roads, bridges). Nevertheless, these contracts would most probably be concluded by public tenders.
- Laurynas Lukošiūnas: We encourage the tenderers to be active in offering the things potentially needed. On the other hand the Ministry of Finance already issued the recommendation for the contracting authorities not to delay with procurements and even bring forward the procurements, which are planned for later months. New funds are being allocated, for example, for road constructions.
- Raivo Raudzeps: Non-application of well established and flexible enough procurement rules should be discouraged as it brings along risks arising out of lack of transparency and unavailability of effective review mechanism and remedies, and fragmentation to the EU-wide market. The contracting authorities should look into their procurement plans and, if possible, launch their procurements as early as possible.
- Maria Rodich: the question is not quite relevant for Belarus as for today there is no room to discuss non-application of procurement rules.
Prices increases because demand of goods are skyrocketing!
- Maria Rodich: On the first days of April Belarusian government introduced price growth moratorium to stabilize the market, which was cancelled in 2 weeks. Currently the Government extended the list of socially important goods, the prices for which are regulated by the State. In this way the Government aims to control prices increase at least to some extent.
- Raivo Raudzeps: Latvia has not introduced control of prices. The most effective measure would be to maintain and encourage competition among supplier as much as possible by using appropriate procurement procedures and negotiating methods. Sole-source procurements are a risk to competition among the suppliers and therefore an incentive to artificially increase the prices.
- Laurynas Lukošiūnas: Such measures as joint procurements (of several authorities or event different states together) could provide more negotiation power for the buyer’s side, but not always it is considered.