EBRD and UK support public procurement in Bosnia and Herzegovina

By Lucia Sconosciuto

EBRD and UK support public procurement in Bosnia and Herzegovina

New programme to boost transparency and modernise procedures in public tendering

The EBRD, with support from the UK government, is launching a technical cooperation programme in Bosnia and Herzegovina to improve public procurement practices. The project will enhance efficiency, improve transparency and promote competition in public procurement – crucial elements of a well-governed economy.

The programme will focus on strengthening the institutional capacity of the Public Procurement Review Body (PPRB) of Bosnia and Herzegovina, an independent institution responsible for monitoring the application of the public procurement law, and guaranteeing the protection of tenderers’ rights.

Bosnia and Herzegovina adopted a new law on public procurement in 2014, which is being implemented to comply with EU directives. In the same year, the EBRD signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the government that focuses on improving the efficiency and transparency of public procurement with policy and legal advice, technical cooperation and capacity building. Under this agreement the Bank helped, for example, to enhance training in public procurement by supporting a management master’s programme for civil servants.

The new project, funded by the UK government through its Good Governance Fund, will include technical assistance to establish a faster and more efficient appeals process which is currently suffering from high volumes of complaints. This will include the adoption of a compendium of legal complaint cases, based on best practice from the wider region, which has been proven to be an effective tool to reduce the number of cases and to share knowledge of legal practice in procurement.

In addition, the project will pilot an IT solution to digitise the complaint mechanism, which should enable quicker and easier access to complaint cases, and faster and more efficient resolution while ensuring the protection of complainants’ rights through increased transparency. Specialised training will also be provided to the members of the PPRB in order to increase its capacity for resolving complaint cases efficiently.

Overall, the programme will contribute towards developing a modern and efficient public procurement system that will cut administrative costs, strengthen a predictable investment climate and consequently increase investors’ confidence.

The project was launched today in Sarajevo in the presence of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s PPRB representatives, the British Ambassador to Bosnia and Herzegovina, His Excellency Edward Ferguson, and the EBRD Head of Bosnia Herzegovina, Ian Brown.

Ambassador Edward Ferguson, said: “The UK government is investing millions of pounds each year in the future prosperity of Bosnia and Herzegovina. We want to support much faster growth of business and the private sector, and much more efficiency and less corruption in the public sector. Public procurement is a well-known problem area. Through this project we want to help address a big issue for potential investors in Bosnia and Herzegovina, which is the way that complaints about public procurements are handled. The EBRD has a lot of experience in modernising public procurement practices around the world and, by working closely with the PPRB, we hope to deliver significant improvements in speed and transparency.”

Jelena Gotovac, Chairperson of the Public Procurement Review Body of Bosnia and Herzegovina said: “This project, prepared in cooperation with the EBRD, is very important for the Public Procurement Review Body of Bosnia and Herzegovina, as the objective of the project is to improve the institutional capacity and good practices in the area of public procurement. This also represents an opportunity to improve knowledge and skills related to public procurement procedures. Good and equal practices are reassuring for the participants in the appeals process initiated before the PPRB.”

Ian Brown, EBRD Head of Bosnia and Herzegovina, added: “The Bank encourages international good practice and transparency in government procurement as well as enhanced competition to enable efficient investments. We are delighted with the United Kingdom’s support for this programme, which comes from our shared commitment to support the government of Bosnia and Herzegovina to develop a framework that will enable integrity of public spending.”

The programme is part of the EBRD’s Investment Climate and Governance Initiative which aims to support reform-minded governments and its corporate clients to increase transparency, good governance and healthy competition in the countries where the Bank invests.

The EBRD has cumulatively invested over €2 billion in Bosnia and Herzegovina, with a focus on supporting the private sector, regional inclusion and promoting a more efficient and sustainable use of resources while coordinating the EBRD’s activities with the European Union and other international financial institutions.

The UK government’s support for Bosnia and Herzegovina, provided through the Good Governance Fund, aims to facilitate improvements in the business climate, support socio-economic reforms and tackle corruption in order to generate economic growth and support the country’s political development.

Over the past two years this has included the development of countrywide strategies for the transport and energy sectors, significant reductions to the costs and bureaucracy faced by the private sector, and work towards the introduction of an online system for registering new businesses across Bosnia and Herzegovina.