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Improving public procurement system as soon as possible

Transparency – Serbia (official chapter of Transparency International) welcomes opening of negotiations on chapter 5 of European integration, that refer to public procurements, as well as publishing of negotiating position of the Government of Serbia on that chapter. These documents recognize seriousness of the problem of avoiding public procurement rules by implementing interstate agreements with largest infrastructural projects, to what Transparency – Serbia indicated for years.

We consider as necessary to change this approach to European integration and that it is about time to dedicate more attention to the essence of the problem instead of mere counting of opened chapters. In the public procurement area, small part of negotiations is related to matters that can be considered as in the interest of the EU. Among such are final suspension of preferential, that were decreased so far, as well as harmonization with the directives, which Serbia had mostly done so far, ever since 2002. Significant part of goals that are to be accomplished refers to matters that are in our exclusive interest and should be resolved regardless of the European integration process. For example, that can be said for „more efficient fight against corruption in the public procurement system“ (that was stated by Minister without Portfolio in charge of European Integration Jadranka Joksimović on the occasion of opening of chapters) and „implementation of measures that secure law implementation“ (which was emphasized by the European Council in yesterday’s press release).

Our organization, ever since 2008, points out to Serbian authorities, domestic public and relevant international institutions, that interstate agreements are a factor that ruins public procurement system, but also implementation of other anticorruption rules that precede signing of contract with the state (public-private partnership, privatization). When rules on bidding, competition, transparency, control and previous analysis are not implemented on the basis of interstate agreements for signing of specific contracts for procurement of works, selling of enterprises, concessions, establishing of joint enterprises and similar, the higher the risk of corruption is. In a situation when such agreements are not exception from the rule, but are implemented with largest infrastructural projects (building of power plants, bridges, roads, residential-business complexes, pipelines whose value is measured in hundreds of millions of Euros), significantly stultifies strict anticorruption standards, set by the Public Procurement Law from 2012. That is why it is positive that the Government in its negotiating platform emphasizes that „special attention will be dedicated to harmonization of special exemptions that are not in line with the acquis communitaire of the EU, like exception from the implementation of the PPL that are implemented in compliance with international agreements, that are according to the EU allowed only exceptionally“ and that „international agreements will be harmonized, revised and optionally changed“. Finally, according to TS, Serbia regardless of the EU integration, shouldn’t enter into agreements that rule out competition, because it is logical to expect that that bid placed by the bidder chosen in advance will never be more favorable than the one attained by bidding.

Transparency – Serbia                                                            Belgrade, 14 December 2016