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Changes to the Serbian Public Procurement Act expected in 2017

Changes to the Serbian Public Procurement Act expected in 2017

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Changes to existing Serbian public procurement framework are expected in 2017, as it was announced by the Serbian Public procurement office. The main motive for amendments is the harmonization of the existing public procurement framework in Serbia with EU Directive 2014/24/EU on public procurement, which features the principle of “most economically advantageous tender” (the “MEAT” criteria) as the main selection criteria. The MEAT criteria shall now gain a prominent place in the Serbian public procurement procedure, too.

This selection criteria provides for quality and best value for money by putting more emphasis on environmental considerations, social aspects or innovative characteristics of the work, goods or services procured, while still taking price into account.

Furthermore, a larger role will be given to so-called framework agreements, which increase cost effectiveness of public procurement by reducing the number of procedures necessary for the conclusion of the contract. This will serve to minimize the administrative burden on the bidders, which is also one of the requirements in the harmonization process.

Although the EU progress reports give positive marks to Serbia’s public procurement policies, they also call for effective fight against corruption, which is still somewhat present in the process. For this reason, the upcoming amendments will aim at strengthening the cooperation between all relevant stakeholders – the Public Procurement Office, Public Prosecutor, Anti-Corruption Agency and State Audit Institution.

According to experts, one of the issues that often plagues the public procurement procedure, and should be addressed in the amendments, is the collusion of participants in public procurement which infringes the rules on protection of competition, and thus prevents the contracting authority from obtaining the most advantageous tender.

Therefore, bearing in mind that the value of public procurement contracts only in the first half of 2016 amounted to nearly 8% of the country’s GDP, it is clear that the area of public procurement has a significant impact on Serbia’s economy and that the announced amendments should be treated as one of the priorities in 2017.

By Milan Samardzic, Partner, and Sanja Dosen, Associate, SOG / Samardzic, Oreski & Grbovic

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