Irregularities in public procurement were most pronounced during the pandemic, but they are almost ubiquitous in this area. Monitoring of the portal specialized in monitoring tenders showed that last year, out of ten public procurements in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), as many as nine had corrupt elements.
About three billion marks a year are set aside for public procurement, and the procedures are in most cases non-transparent. Monitoring of the “We follow tenders” (”Pratimotendere.ba”) portal showed that abuses are present in all phases, from planning to realization of contracts. The biggest risks are recorded in direct agreements, which are in fact the most common procedures in public procurement.
“Moreover, there are abuses related to technical specifications in other public procurement procedures, ie tender documents. It practically draws goods and services to be procured. Therefore, certain products are drawn, ie bidders from whom contracting authorities want to procure which is not allowed by the Public Procurement Law, “ told Slobodan Golubovic, editor of the “Pratimotendere.ba” portal.
Nine of the ten public procurement procedures in the past year had corrupt elements. In the non-governmental sector, they stated that corruption in public procurement is most pronounced in the areas of construction works and IT services, where there are not a large number of bidders who could compete, and they were most noticeable during the pandemic when it comes to the procurement of medical equipment.
“According to the data of the Public Procurement Agency, that is 1.7 bidders per one procedure. So, we don’t even have two bidders per one public procurement procedure. That tells us enough about the fact that all procedures have already been set up in advance and that bidders who take over the tender documentation see that they have no interest in even submitting an offer, let alone participating in the proceedings, “ explained Damjan Ozegovic, Transparency International BiH.
Maneuvering in the public procurement system is also possible due to omissions in the existing legislation, which is why the expert public has been pointing out the need for reform in this area for years. Adoption of a new legal solution is one of the 14 priorities for BiH. Amendments to the law were adopted in the House of Representatives, but not in the House of Peoples.
“I honestly think that there are too many people here who are interested in regulating this area as poorly and inadequately as possible in order for it to be subject to various manipulations that are widely used by political elites,“ noted Sasa Magazinovic, a Member of the House of Representatives of the Parliamentary Assembly of BiH (PABiH).
There is no fear of responsibility for corruption in public procurement because sanctions for abuses are usually lacking. Also, due to the problem of active identification, the right to appeal is given only to interested bidders who have taken over the tender documentation, so in situations where there is only one bidder who meets the conditions – there is no one to complain, BHRT writes.