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news 31 Jul 13

EU Warns Bosnia Over Public Procurement Law

The EU has expressed concerns about planned changes to Bosnian public procurement legislation which campaigners have warned could allow corruption to increase further.

Elvira M. Jukic
BIRN
Sarajevo

Renzo Daviddi, deputy head of the EU delegation to Bosnia, told local media on Monday that the proposed changes in legislation governing public procurement processes in the country do not match European standards.

In an interview with the FENA news agency, Daviddi said that the changes focus on marginal issues instead of ensuring more transparency.

The changes have been adopted by the government despite criticism from experts and anti-corruption groups, and currently await approval by parliament.

They envisage new procedures for complaints about tenders and will impose higher costs on companies which want to question them.

The Banja Luka-based organisation Tender, which campaigns against graft in public procurements, has warned that in the first half of this year, more than 70 per cent of such procurements were not transparent because they were completed through direct agreements and negotiations which were not publicly announced.

Tender said that three key changes to the law had been proposed which would endanger transparency even further.

Under the changes, the Procurement Review Body will not be obliged to publish its decisions online, counter to the practice in EU countries.

Another change would impose higher fees for submitting a complaint to the Procurement Review Body, possibly ranging from 250 euro to 13,000 euro, twice as much as in any neighbouring or EU country.

Tender warned that the higher costs could cause companies to stop complaining about procurement processes, which could lead to an increase in corruption.

The third issue which has worried Tender is that the new law envisions the establishment of two new Procurement Review Body offices in Mostar and Banja Luka, which would cost 800,000 euro.

“This all leads to the point that those most responsible in this country do not have any intention in the near future of solving the key problems which are allowing and leading to enormous corruption in public procurements,” Tender said in a statement earlier this month.

Daviddi said that the new law should assure more transparency in public procurements and guarantee the independence of the audit services, as part of the country's EU integration process.

He added that Bosnia was the only country in the region which has not adopted European standards designed to fight corruption in public procurements.

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