Healthcare is a priority area in which the citizens of Serbia would invest the most money through public procurement, according to a survey of the attitudes of citizens, bidders and clients by the National Alliance for Local Economic Development (NALED).
Next, as stated in the announcement, are education, infrastructure and environmental protection.
According to 69 percent of citizens, priority in public procurement should be given to quality, not price.
Official data, however, show that last year, a record 560 billion dinars were spent on public procurement in Serbia, but in as many as 95 percent of procurements, the cheapest was not chosen.
In addition, although they could have demanded that the tenders meet ecological or social criteria, the contracting authorities only carried out 650 green procurements and another 86 social ones, which is still very little compared to 183,000 realized tenders.
Both bidders and contracting authorities agree that the reasons for less application of other criteria are that such procurements are more risky, they do not have a model by which to create criteria, or they are not sufficiently trained in their application.
For this reason, improving the knowledge of bidders and clients was the focus of the project “Effective public procurement in the service of economic growth”, which was carried out by NALED, in cooperation with the Swedish Agency for International Development Cooperation Sida, in order to support the reform of the procurement system, which began three years ago with the adoption of the new law.
“The new law and the introduction of electronic procedures through the portal have evidently changed the public procurement system for the better, as confirmed by 64 percent of bidders and even 91 percent of orderers in NALED’s survey. However, the issues of transparency of procedures and porosity to corruption, as and low competition, with an average of 2.5 offers per tender,” said NALED executive director Violeta Jovanović at the project’s final conference.
The Head of the Delegation of the European Union in Serbia, Emanuele Zofre, pointed out that the legal and institutional frameworks of Serbia in the field of public procurement are largely harmonized with the legal acquis of the EU.
“Thus, Serbia is generally moderately prepared in the field of public procurement, but without progress in the last annual report of the European Commission and with the risk of regression in case the worrying trends continue,” said Zofre.
He added that “exemptions from the application of the law on public procurement and a large number of irregularities in the contracts audited by the State Audit Institution are worrying.”
“Serbia should abolish the law on special procedures for linear infrastructure projects, as well as ensure that interstate agreements, concluded with third countries, do not limit competition unjustifiably and that they respect the basic principles of public procurement, in accordance with national legislation and the acquis of the EU”. said Giofre.
During the project, more than 70 trainings were conducted, which were attended by about 1,500 representatives of bidders, contracting authorities, judges and prosecutors, the Office for Public Procurement and the Republic Commission for the Protection of Rights, as well as civil society organizations and the media.
More than 600 bidders have undergone training for the use of the Public Procurement Portal, and a guide for the application of quality criteria in the procurement of architectural, development and consulting services, as well as guides for the application of green criteria in the procurement of public buildings, ecological vehicles for public transport, has been prepared for clients. , asphalting of streets and roads, installation of public lighting and provision of office materials.
Some of them got acquainted with the best practices in the EU as part of study visits to Slovenia, Italy, Germany, France and Luxembourg.
“In the last two years, the ‘Effective Public Procurement’ project helped develop a more transparent and responsible public procurement system, and special attention was paid to the introduction of environmental criteria. A transparent, responsible and efficient public procurement system saves money and helps to establish conditions that accelerate growth. of the private sector,” said the Ambassador of the Kingdom of Sweden to Serbia, Anika Ben David.
An e-learning platform was also developed within the project. At the address www.lppp.rss, all interested parties will be able to get information, refresh or acquire new knowledge about all aspects of public procurement, from regulation to preparation of the procedure or offer, completely free of charge.
The project also supported the improvement of the Register of Bidders in the Agency for Business Registers (APR). From next year, the registration procedure in the register will be completely electronic and bidders will no longer have to obtain and submit data that the authorities already have, and their participation in procurement will be facilitated.
The director of the Office for Public Procurement, Sandra Damčević, pointed out that the task of that institution is to continuously continue working on the improvement of the public procurement system.
“The focus in the coming period will be on encouraging competition, strengthening the capacity of bidders, with a special emphasis on small and medium-sized enterprises and empowering contracting authorities to apply green and social criteria,” said Damčević.