The Ministry of Finance is adamant in going into a conflict of interest in the most direct way via the changes in the Law on Public Procurement. The Ministry, a large procurer, annually spending via public procurement over RSD 3bn, will as of next year be controlling what itself and the other ministries and state bodies order or spend their money on.
Despite harsh criticism of the expert public and warnings that independent institutions shouldn’t be revoked in the newest changes to the Law on Public Procurement is anticipated the revoking of the Public Procurement Administration.
It doesn’t stop there because all the control functions of the Administration will be taken over by the Ministry of Finance led by Prime Minister Mirko Cvetkovic.
Let’s repeat, it is precisely this Ministry who is responsible for nobody answering for the failures on “urgent” tenders in the value of RSD 4.4bn.
The expert public, judging by the first reactions to the new, even more radical changes to the Law on Public Procurement, is shocked with the open violation of all the known rules for preventing corruption. And the first rule is for control to be conducted by an independent body, not a politically controlled service of one ministry.
“It’s not hard to imagine what public procurement will look like in the Ministries when such control ceases to exist. It’s not common for the Ministry to control public procurement because it should be conducted by an independent body, separate from the government so that it could control the government too. Years have been spent to make an institution like the Administration that is able to control such a complex system of public procurements, and now it is tripping on every turn. I simply don’t have a comment for what they’re doing” says Danilo Pejovic, director of Transparency Serbia.
The Administration for Public Procurement, if the latest version of the changes is green lighted, will be blended into the Ministry of Finance (it was mentioned heretofore that it would be transformed), they say that the authors of the legal changes had of all the objections sustained only the claim for all public procurements to be published on the portal immediately, and not 6 months from the law’s passing.
“The Ministry of Finance is a big procurer and the question is can it control itself. So far we had good experience with the budget inspection” says Sasha Varinac from the Public Procurement Administration.
Zoran Stojiljkovic, member of the Board of the Anti-Corruption Agency, cautions that such a legal solution is a clear entering into a conflict of interest.
“There is no logic in all this because it primarily invalidates the existence of an independent state body. Corruption takes 5-10% of the GDP, Stojiljkovic says.
The draft of the Law on Public Procurement should have been sent yesterday to all because the start of public debating has been announced. The representatives of the European Commission, OSCE, World Bank, SIGMA and other international expert organizations have warned the authors of the draft that they would be monitoring the further changes. It’s hard to imagine that with such a non-transparent and even less controlled public procurement process it could get a green light towards getting a candidate status in negotiations.