EBRD promotes modern and transparent public procurement practice in Tunisia

By Nibal Zgheib

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The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), in cooperation with the Tunisian High Authority for Public Procurement (HAICOP), is helping improve the transparency and effectiveness of public procurement in Tunisia by developing regulations and policies to implement modern e-procurement procedures as well as boosting the capacity of the Tunisian review body in dealing with public procurement complaints.

During a forum co-organised by the EBRD and HAICOP, two technical cooperation (TC) programmes led by the EBRD’s Legal Transition team and supported by donor-funding from the government of Korea were launched. These TCs will strengthen a public procurement decree that was adopted by Tunisia in 2014 which modernised and decentralised the system by introducing an e-procurement platform, TUNEPS, to manage tenders online.

 One of the projects will assist HAICOP in developing and implementing an adequate regulatory framework for online public procurement procedures related to small value contracts, in line with international best practice.

By streamlining online application procedures, the project will open up business opportunities for Tunisian small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) interested in taking part in public tenders. In parallel, the EBRD’s Advice for Small Business programme in Tunisia will work to raise awareness about the reform among SMEs through training programmes and advice.

In addition, to further strengthen public procurement review and remedies procedures, a parallel TC project will provide professional training on public procurement litigation to the members of the Investigation Committee on Public Contracts (COSEM) who review complaints related to public tenders.

Marie-Anne Birken, EBRD General Counsel, said: “The EBRD is delighted to implement these programmes which will contribute to improving the business climate and transparency in public procurement. This technical assistance builds on the needs that have emerged from rigorous legal assessments the EBRD has conducted in the country and match the reform priorities identified by Tunisian authorities.”

Khaled Johmani, General Controller, HAICOP, said: “Providing support for both SMEs and public entities through tailored training and on line support are key to reinforce effective participation of SME’s in public procurement through TUNEPS.”

The forum provided an opportunity for sharing international best practice in public procurement, gathering practitioners from Spain, Italy, France and Ukraine who presented case studies of successful reforms and their applications.

Tunisia became an EBRD shareholder in 2012 and to date the Bank has invested more than €300 million across 25 projects in various sectors of the country’s economy. Through the EBRD’s Small Business Support programme, the Bank has also initiated more than 220 technical assistance capacity-building projects that have directly benefited Tunisian SMEs.

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