Bosnia and Herzegovina has expressed interest in participating in joint public procurements with European Union member states for medical equipment to fight the coronavirus, but has not joined the public procurements announced so far, the European Commission told “Nezavisne“.
Namely, as it was explained to Nezavisne in an informal conversation, the European Commission invited the countries of the Western Balkans to join them in the procurement of medical equipment in the fight against the corona virus, in order to help them get the best possible equipment at the best prices.
The first tender was announced on June 17 this year, and the deadline for applications expired on July 9. BiH did not join the tender. The joint tender included 24 medical devices, classified into six categories. These, as explained, include the supply of analgesics and corticosteroids, then antibiotics, muscle relaxants, anesthetics and sedatives, and other medications.
However, it is not too late for BiH to join and procure at least some of the medicines and thus cover part of its needs, but given that the application deadline has expired, BiH would, as explained to us, under Article 30 of the Joint Public Agreement procurement could request part of the equipment that is in the acquired reserve. In order to be able to do that, it is necessary to formally address an EU member state and conclude a contract with it on the purchase of a part of the equipment by concluding a special contract. The only condition is that the contract must be in line with European public procurement rules.
They were also told that BiH is not obliged to participate in European public procurement, but if it would like to participate, there are three formal conditions.
The first condition is to appoint a representative and deputy representative to the committee that manages the public procurement process, and to inform the European Commission that participation in EU public procurement is in line with domestic rules.
In the event that domestic rules are not harmonized, BiH could participate in the work of the committee as an observer. As for the request for assistance, we were told that BiH sent three requests to the European Commission to send it assistance through the EU Civil Protection Mechanism, and Slovenia and Austria responded positively to these requests.
However, BiH turned to the EU for assistance under this mechanism only in April for the purchase of respirators, tents, testing equipment and other medical equipment.
It is not clear why BiH did not turn for help later than to procure respirators and other equipment through commercial partners, just as it is not clear why BiH would not want to procure the highest quality medical equipment available on the market at lower prices together with EU members.
The fact remains that, when the EU announced that it would procure medical equipment only for its members, some politicians in BiH publicly criticized the EU, and when the EU subsequently included BiH, we did not join. Regarding public procurement of vaccines, it was explained to us that BiH is not yet included in public procurement of vaccines because it is not even possible to announce public procurement for a product that is not yet available on the market.
When it comes to public procurement in the EU, member states have opted for joint public procurement because in practice it has been shown that in this way they are able to receive on average a third more favorable offers for goods and services than to go it alone. If the studies published on the pages of the European Commission are to be believed, in 2017, about 250,000 individual public procurement contracts were concluded, with a total value of around two trillion euros, or two thousand billion euros, or a total of 14 percent of the EU’s gross domestic product.
In addition, in this study, it was pointed out that in 2017, 59 percent of all public procurements were performed on the basis of the most favorable bidder, while in the next item, the quality of work performed or delivered goods was the first precondition in relation to the price.