The Romanian procurement market is worth 15 billion euros annually and it is essential to have a real debate on legislative amendments, British Ambassador to Romania Paul Brummell said on Monday during a debate on new draft laws regarding public procurement.
We salute the publishing of the new National Strategy for Public Acquisitons by the Ministry of Public Finance, as well as the new draft laws. The procurement market in Romania is worth 15 billion euros yearly and it is essential that there be a real debate on these amendments. We appreciate the government’s efforts to improve the legislative framework and I hope that this will be finalized after a broad debate, Paul Brummell stated.
The British Ambassador considers that negotiating the new directives at a European level was very important for the United Kingdom, and procurements can have a major impact on the functioning of the internal market. Member states have worked hard for the past ten years to build more competitive economies by promoting competition and investing in infrastructure and education.
Great Britain has already implemented the Directive on public procurement. Based on our experience so far, I would like to point towards certain aspects that we deem essential in Romania too. Firstly, it is crucial to simplify the procedures for the benefit of SMEs, while following the criteria of transparence and competition. Small companies have a greater potential to create jobs, economic growth and innovation. There are great examples in the UK when awarding multiple contracts to small companies led to cost reductions of up to 90pct, for example in the field of IT services or transportation for the government, Paul Brummell added.
The Ambassador also stated that greater flexibility and freedom to negotiate contracts can lead to better results. This is advantageous both for providers as well as for government, but above all for the taxpayers. Also, limiting the lowest price criterion and the wide use of electronic catalogues are seen as positive developments.
Third, we wish for a greater transparency and stronger mechanisms to prevent corruption in public procurement. It is obvious that Romania has made considerable progress in the past few years in sanctioning the conflict of interests. Still, measures are not uniform throughout the country and the lack of transparency of the local authorities when awarding contracts is still a big problem. The European Commission’s latest report on the Mechanism for Cooperation and Verification cautions on the persisting flaws in this field. Last year the National Integrity Agency identified more than 500 conflict of interest cases in the running of procurement procedures. For this reason, implementing PREVENT, the conflict of interests prevention system, needs to remain a priority, Paul Brummell stressed.
According to the Ambassador, the public and private sectors must be ready to implement the new legislative framework. In order to boost the knowledge on the new rules, the British government has organized up to now over 200 training sessions for its public servants.
In Romania the legislative framework in this field has undergone multiple amendments during the last ten years and fragmentation and lack of stability of the laws keeps on posing problems. That is why we believe that the three aspects above are essential: streamlined, more flexible and more transparent procedures. We salute once more the initiative to organize a broad debate in this field and we hope that other discussions will follow. The new legislative framework is a complex one, and ensuring a real debate takes place will be extremely beneficial, Paul Brummell explained.
Freedom House Romania and Expert Forum organize on Monday and Tuesday a debate on the new draft laws on public procurement, which will implement the new European directives and to address the flaws of the OUG 34/2006 which currently regulates this sector.