TS: “It is important to disclose information on purchasing respirators during an emergency”

Transparency Serbia (TS) called on public authorities and health institutions to release key information on all procurements that have been conducted since the introduction of the state of emergency, including those where the Public Procurement Law has not been implemented.

“Although the public procurement website has been created for reasons of transparency of public spending, in the last few days, citizens of Serbia have received information on major public procurements which were conducted in other ways, through Instagram profiles and media statements by the President of the Republic”, said TS in a note.

TS recalls that, according to the President, Serbia has already commissioned and paid for 1,100 respirators, while the last contracts announced by public authorities and health institutions on the mentioned website date back to March 11, 2020, when the Ministry of Health, after being given a green light by the Public Procurement Office, launched a procedure for the purchase of 15 respirators and selected the most favourable of the two bids after seven days.

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“The Public Procurement Law is still in force even after the state of emergency has been declared, but it is clearly not applied to contracts currently in progress. How is this possible?” asks TS.

The Public Procurement Law from 2012, which will be in force until 1 July 2020, does allow obtaining funds “to provide basic living conditions in the event of natural disasters”, without applying any of the prescribed procedures.

The only obligation is to act “in accordance with the principles of law” (efficiency, competition, transparency, equality of bidders); in such cases, however, as explained, compliance with these principles can only be determined later, and there are no procedural guarantees for this.

On the other hand, the procedure for procurement of 15 respirators in the first half of March this year was significantly reduced compared to the normal tendering procedure, but there are guarantees of transparency through the publication of information on the public procurement website.

“Considering the current global demand for respirators, it can be assumed that the confidentiality of certain procurement data can be provisionally justified. However, it is difficult to imagine a valid reason for not disclosing exactly what was purchased and how much it was paid”, underlined TS, adding that “information on what medical equipment was purchased and in what quantity should be provided by the relevant state authorities”.

The organization added that any insinuation that could be interpreted as a violation of the law, such as that respirators were purchased almost on the black market, should be avoided.

(Naslovi.net, 06.04.2020)


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