kzkThe Commission for Protection of Competition and the Italian Competition Authority, Autorità Garante della Concorrenza e del Mercato, organized a five-day seminar “Competition and Public Procurements” as partners in implementing the EU-funded Twinning project “Further Development of Protection of Competition in Serbia”.

At the event held at the Palace of Serbia marking the formal opening of the seminar, keynote addresses were given by Aleksandra Tomić, Chair of the Committee on Finance, State Budget and Control of Public Spending of the National Assembly of the Republic of Serbia, Miloje Obradović, President of the Commission for Protection of Competition, Dejan Damnjanović, Deputy Director of the Anticorruption Agency, and Stefan Otašević from the Public Procurement Office.

Chair of the Assembly’s Committee Aleksandra Tomić said that independent institutions, judiciary, and the public must have control over public procurements. “In each country, the state taken individually is the largest purchaser and the biggest economic player, while the public procurements are one of the most important budget expenditure items, and that is why it’s imperative to monitor how the taxpayers’ money is spent”, underlined Chair Tomić, pointing out that public tenders may be suitable for inappropriate spending of public funds by bid-rigging in every country. So it’s important, she added, that all stakeholders participate in adopting legislation regulating the field in order to avoid any “legal loopholes”.

President of the Commission for Protection of Competition Miloje Obradović said that according to the Law on Protection of Competition, rigged or fictitious bids in public procurements are among the most serious violations of competition – the so-called cartel agreements.

“The Commission’s competence relating to public procurement procedures exists only when bidders enter into a prohibited agreement on bid submission or suppression schemes in response to a call for tenders published by the ordering party”, said Obradović and reminded the audience that the dawn raid system and leniency program are launched in Serbia, proving to be the most efficient tools in detecting cartels. As an added value, the Commission President mentioned the need to improve the modalities of association and cooperation between national institutions in Serbia in charge of public procurements and competition.

kzkThe goal of this seminar is to generate positive outputs in the practical delivery through the transparency of public procurement procedures, strengthen competition and yield higher savings in the Budget of the Republic of Serbia. The workshops envisaged the participation of all institutions of the Republic of Serbia whose mandates are directly focused and contribute to achieving goals of public procurements in terms of efficiency, transparency, and fairness for economic actors and citizens.

Serbian and European experts from numerous jurisdictions will present different strategies for designing public procurements that ensure effective competition.

Also, the event will serve as an opportunity to discuss indicators that can aid in identifying bid-rigging schemes whose consequences may adversely affect the outcome of the public procurements.

The project “Further Development of Protection of Competition in Serbia” is a part of the Twinning initiative launched by the European Commission to assist candidate countries in their efforts to strengthen their own administrative and judicial capacities for the implementation of the EU acquis. The project budget is about one million euros and will be implemented over 24 months. The contracting authority is the Ministry of Finance, Department for Contracting and Financing of EU Funded Programmes (CFCU).