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Where there is no law, but every man does what is right in his own eyes, there is the least of real liberty
Henry M. Robert

The Verkhovna Rada has opened government procurement to public scrutiny

Expert: “For the system to become truly transparent, they will have to pass laws ‘On Combating Corruption’ and ‘On the National Anti-Corruption Bureau’ as well”
15 April, 2014 - 11:30

MPs finally voted on an amended version of the government bill on public procurement, known as the bill No. 4587, on April 10. However, this truly revolutionary act barely passed the chamber, gaining the 226 votes needed only on the second try. So, now all the companies in which the state owns over 50 percent of equity fall under the law. It has eliminated the loophole allowing purchasing goods from one party, as had been the case. It is also expected to reduce by half or two thirds the time needed for holding a tender. The law has opened to public scrutiny all the information about the tender mechanism, its participants and participation terms. Prime Minister Arsenii Yatseniuk, who presented the bill to the parliament, said it would finally make public procurement “transparent, open and competitive.”

Before the vote for the government-introduced tender bill, talk in the parliament’s lobbies was that it might fall short of the 226 votes threshold due to an unclear position of the MPs from the Sovereign European Ukraine group and Svoboda faction.

The Day asked the informal leader of the former group MP Ihor Yeremeiev about the reasons behind their hesitation. “We will support the government-introduced bill, provided it contains an article on electronic tenders. Why is this important? It allows SMEs to participate in these tenders and supply goods to state enterprises. This gives SMEs an opportunity to be full participants in the competition for these orders,” he told this newspaper. The bill’s drafters have listened to this proposal, and Yeremeiev’s group gave its support to it.

Svoboda MP Oleksandr Myrny, on the contrary, assured The Day that his faction put no ultimatums forward and was going to vote for the government-introduced version of the bill from the get-go. Meanwhile, an alternative bill on public procurement, authored by Svoboda’s Ihor Miroshnychenko and known as the bill No. 4587-1, was just a supplement to the government bill, because, as explained by Myrny, the government’s document was “somewhat narrow-focused.” He illustrated his point by complaining to The Day’s reporter that the bill No. 4587 was not going far enough on fight against corruption. “Say, they hold a tender, a company wins it in a fair fight, but then sends a letter stating that the price of the product purchased has tripled as a result of several factors. Therefore, we suggest preventing such 3-fold and 15-fold increases by setting the cost of such products as supplied under the tender at no more than 110 percent of the market price,” he said. Myrny explained Svoboda’s second proposal by the example of medicine procurement: “Such tenders are conducted only when the State Treasury has the entire required amount of money reserved, for example 100 million. What we are saying is let us allow for the tender to be held for a certain amount without waiting for funds to be transferred in full, which, by the way, will help the patients in dire need of free medicines,” he said. According to Myrny, Svoboda will now try to implement its proposals by amending the government-proposed law.

“The law creates an entirely clear and understandable public procurement system, helping to bring its standards up to the European level,” chairman of the parliamentary committee on the fight against organized crime and corruption, UDAR MP Viktor Chumak told The Day as he evaluated the bill passed by the Verkhovna Rada. However, he said that all the laws depended on people to execute them, and so would largely the final result. Therefore, Chumak added that the Verkhovna Rada should pass laws ‘On Combating Corruption’ and ‘On the National Anti-Corruption Bureau’ as soon as possible, to finally make all public procurement procedures clean.

By Natalia BILOUSOVA, The Day
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