Implementation of measures from the Strategy for Development of Public Procurement System is not improving this area

The first Semi-annual Report on implementation of the Action Plan for 2016 showed that its measures are not defined in a way to measure real, but only imaginary improvement in public procurement system in Montenegro.

In July this year, the Government adopted the first Semi-annual Report on implementation of the Action Plan for 2016 for implementation of the Strategy for Development of Public Procurement System 2016-2020, which showed all the shortcomings of the adopted strategic framework.

As stated in the Report, 15 out of 31 measures for the first half of 2016 are implemented completely, another 15 are being implemented continuously while one measure has not been yet implemented.

The measure that refers to preparation of expert basis for the adoption of a new Public Procurement Law (PPL), while ensuring full transparency and participation on the occasion of adoption of the new PPL have not been implemented yet. Bearing in mind that the implementation of this activity is delayed, we can expect a delay in the preparation and adoption of the new Law, which is scheduled for the first quarter of 2017.

However, parts of the Report that refer to the implemented measures and those that are being implemented continuously are particularly interesting and point to the flaws in the preparation of the Strategy.

It is particularly problematic that a measure that refers to “punishments in case of violation of PPL” is marked as implemented, without specifying the number, authorities and the total value or the amount of penalties imposed.

We remind that 20% of contracting authorities – 134 of them, did not compile and submit to the Public Procurement Administration (PPA) Public Procurement Plan; almost 10% of contracting authorities did not submit at all their Reports on Public Procurement Procedures conducted during 2015, while nearly 50% of them did not do it within legal deadline.

The media wrote and it is familiar to the public that, for example, the Ministry of Transport and Maritime Affairs did not compile and submit the report to PPA within the legal deadline. However, this Ministry is not on the list of authorities that did not submit a report, which was published by PPA in its Annual report. Additionally, the Ministry of Transport and Maritime Affairs is also not on the list of entities controlled by the Administration for Inspection Affairs – Department for Inspection of Public Procurement, which is an integral part of the Semi-annual Report on Inspection Supervision in the Field of Public Procurement, adopted by the Government in late August. Inspection for Public Procurement has not taken any action within its jurisdiction to prosecute this authority for violating the Law.

Therefore, this measure could not be marked as implemented without specifying the above-mentioned types of violations, offenders and sentenced fines.

Furthermore, according to the Institute Alternative (IA)’s findings, 9 out of 23 municipalities exceeded during 2015 legally allowed percentage of use of direct agreement, as well as 10 out of 33 authorities whose reports we analysed. However, the PPL recognizes only the percentage limitation for the use of direct agreements annually – more than 10%, and exceptionally 20% of total annual completed budget for public procurement, but no misdemeanor liability and fines in case where that percentage is higher.

Within the reporting period were reportedly implemented also the measures that refer to establishing of a coordinated communication between the competent institutions for monitoring and control of public procurement procedures, strengthening their capacities and improvement of their cooperation, as well as establishing and maintaining regular communication with the public, bidders and contracting authorities.

Some of the implemented measures imply regular activities of the authorities or are derived from the Law, such as organization of annual Public Procurement Forum by the PPA, appointment of additional employees in State Commission for the Control of Public Procurement Procedures (SC), appointment of the President of SC and publishing of public procurement related documentation on the Public Procurement Portal.

For none of the abovementioned measures, the Report does not specify the achieved results, such as, for example, additional results achieved in prosecuting violators of the PPL by the Inspection for Public Procurement in relation to its increased capacities or the results achieved by the State Commission after the appointment of its President and hiring two more state officers, including the Secretary of the State Commission.

One of the performance indicators of State Commission’s work with strengthened capacities could be, for example, shorter period of processing complaints, or an increased number of processed cases in the reporting period, but the Report says nothing about it. Therefore, the very implementation of these and similar measures cannot point to real, but only the imaginary progress in the development of public procurement system.

Thus, the report says that nearly 50% of the measures whose implementation is planned for the first half of 2016 is fulfilled, and the implementation of another 50% is in progress. However, without specifying clear, concrete results of relevant institutions, arising from the implementation of measures from the Strategy, it cannot be said that the public procurement system in Montenegro in the past six months has been improved.

Be reminded that the Strategy for Development of Public Procurement System in Montenegro 2016-2020 was adopted in December 2015, without organizing public hearing, the Draft Strategy was not published on the website of the PPA nor the Ministry of Finance, which deprived interested parties of the possibility of submitting comments and improving the content of the document, which affected the quality of this strategic document.

Public policy researcher

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