Bulgaria's Competition Watchdog Snubs Public Procurement Act Amendments
Bulgaria's Commission on Protection of Competition (CPC) has rejected a set of proposed amendments and supplements to the Public Procurement Act public procurement appeal procedures.
The CPC issued a stance on the matter upon the request of the Council of Ministers in connection with a proposal of the Ministry of Environment and Water indicating the necessity of amending the provisions of the PPA in the specified sections.
According to Bulgaria's Ministry of Environment and Water, the appeal regime extends the term for signing contracts with contractors to over 6 months.
The proposal envisages providing collateral when appealing public procurement deals financed under EU operational programs
According to the CPC, however, the requirement to pay a deposit to exercise the right to appeal cannot guarantee the existence of legal interest in bringing proceedings.
The CPC points out that the introduction of an additional financial requirement for claimants would place an additional legal barrier to the challenging of the legality of acts of contracting authorities under the PPA.
The anti-trust watchdog believes that placing additional legal barriers to exercising the right of appeal and penalizing claimants who exercised this right has no backing in Bulgaria's Constitution or EU public procurement law.
The CPC believes that delays in absorption of EU funds are not caused by the appeal regime set out in the PPA, which is why the proposed amendments and supplements to the PPA are not likely to solve the problem.
According to the CPC, guaranteeing lawful procedures under EU operational programs must be a priority not only for the contracting authorities - beneficiaries under the programs - but also of the state and the Managing Authorities of the respective programs, having in mind that the subsequently discovered violations are fixed through financial penalties.
According to Bulgaria's anti-trust watchdog, the proposed amendments and supplements to the PPA cannot lead to the achievement of the goal of bill's initiator, which is why the changes are an inappropriate and disproportionate measure.
The CPC argues that the existing PPA offers an efficient mechanism for exercising control over the legality of acts of contracting parties under the PPA and has been harmonized with Directive 2007/66/EC.
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