A new approach to public procurement in the Western Balkans

By Axel  Reiserer

A new approach to public procurement in the Western Balkans

EBRD supports the launch of International Master in Public Procurement Management by University of Belgrade, Serbia

The EBRD’s regional initiative to strengthen governance in the Western Balkans has been bolstered by the launch of the Joint International Master in Public Procurement Management (IMPPM), a ground-breaking partnership between Belgrade University and Tor Vergata University of Rome.

A total of 34 students from across the region and more than 70 professors, ambassadors and special guests were present at the Belgrade University Faculty of Law to hear Serbia’s Minister of Public Administration and Local Self-Government Branko Ružić launch the programme and announce the establishment of the Western Balkans Centre of Procurement, a collaboration between the Universities of Belgrade and Tor Vergata to support modernising and professionalising the public procurement systems in the region.

The rector of the University of Belgrade, Professor Vladimir Bumbaširević, praised the EBRD’s ongoing commitment to supporting the government’s efforts to improve the governance of public expenditure and fight corruption.

The full-time advanced postgraduate master programme has been designed to improve skills and upgrade the competence of early and mid-career procurement professionals from across the Western Balkans. Graduates are expected to improve the public institutions and private companies they will join after their studies with the skills and knowledge acquired during the course.

Betsy Nelson, EBRD Vice President, said: “In a changing world, strategies for sustainable growth must prioritise education, lifelong learning, job training and skills development. This master’s programme builds bridges between the world of work and education to match skills with the needs of enterprises while promoting the highest standards of professional capacity and integrity. The EBRD is proud to work closely with the Serbian government and Belgrade University to strengthen the regional capacity in public procurement.”’

The Western Balkans programme extends and augments the pioneering IMPPM programme at Tor Vergata University of Rome. Launched in partnership with the EBRD in 2012, it has now trained five generations of public procurement scholars, including 150 students from 34 countries and over 90 organisations and companies.

Alumni from three academic years attended the Belgrade launch and spoke on the close regional cooperation fostered among graduates. Alumni Association President Giulia di Pierro said: “IMPPM graduates work all over the region and the world and support each other to maintain the highest standards of skills and integrity to improve procurement management and purchasing.”

Jan Jackholt, EBRD Director of Procurement, said: “Experience from the master’s programme in Rome shows that graduates remain in close contact and interact with each other in their capacities as procurement experts at various national entities and international organisations. In the case of the Western Balkans, such long-lasting connections can represent an important vehicle for cooperation.”

Procurement is a vital element of well-functioning markets and sustainable economic growth. It connects suppliers and buyers, people and processes, donors and recipient governments, and private and public sectors. Increased professionalism, standards and accountability enhance the legitimacy of the market and political system and help overcome market distortions in procurement. Central to capacity-building and enhancing professionalism has been the EBRD’s practice of promoting women’s access to education and training opportunities.

Daniel Berg, EBRD Director, Serbia, said: “I am proud to see so many women have won positions in the new group of students. Women constitute more than 50 per cent of the 150 IMPPM graduates and this year they comprise 60 per cent of all students.”