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Supplies by direct assignment discontinued

18 November 2012 / 15:11:23  GRReporter
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Government departments are resorting to the trick of "the urgent need" to avoid organising competitions for delivery of materials and services. Thus, they cover their needs through direct assignment without public announcement. Proof of this is that since the beginning of its existence (mid-2012) to the present day the United Independent Service for State Contracts (UISSC) has issued 85 negative decisions for supplies, which should have been carried out through direct assignment. For the most part, these decisions concern healthcare or local self-government.

For this reason, UISSC's Chairman Vassilios Floridis sent a letter to the Minister of Health Andreas Likourendzos, in which he notes that these competitions are deliberately prolonged and the institutions themselves are responsible for this. Therefore, competitions are delayed and some of them are blocked by the court. As a consequence, those for the needs of which these competitions were organised (e.g. hospitals), are resorting to direct assignment of contracts with a term until the end of the competition or for a shorter term - for example, two months, but with a budget equal to or greater than that of the competition and these contracts are signed for the so-called emergencies or for the meeting of urgent needs. It should be noted that in most cases these needs are permanent rather than urgent and delays are not unpredictable. So it turns out that when a competition is announced, at the same time an agreement is sought for the same needs but with the same or a bigger budget.

In practice, the situation is as follows: certain central, rather than local authorities, are authorized to announce tenders for the supply of materials or services, and these competitions are delayed. Thus, local institutions want to be supplied the same materials through direct assignment, claiming that they need to meet emergency needs. According to UISSC's sources, however, this often concerns materials for which there had not been any proper planning. For example, when medicines are finished in October, a new application for a competition in August is not necessary. According to the law, the urgent need concerns unforeseen circumstances (e.g. natural disasters).

Currently, there are 4,000 institutions in Greece assigning supplies. A different mode of supply was valid for the institutions of local government until now. According to the new memorandum, 13 central institutions for supplies have to be established - one in each area. To limit copying of the technical requirements, which is observed in competitions, UISSC's working groups have started developing rules for the auctions. On a following stage, control inspections will be performed on the spot, for example in hospitals' storage-accommodations. UISSC currently employs only seven people of the 25 foreseen.

The operation of the National System for Electronic State Deliveries (NSESD) is expected to be tested by the end of the year. In the first six months of 2013, it will work on a trial basis. According to the memorandum, it will have to work on a regular basis as of July 2013 and by the end of 2013 25% of the supply contracts (as a value) should pass through it. Central institutions must fully use the supply system not later than June 2014, and the entire public sector will have to carry out its supplies through the system by the end of 2015.

The central electronic register of public contracts should also start operating by the end of 2012. It will publish all requests, announcements, contracts and payment orders for supplies. This register has been ready since last year, but it has not been functioning yet because it lacks the signatures of some ministers. Initially, some of them simply refused to sign it, then they were late because of the elections. The Ministry of Development assures that the necessary signatures will be given under the pressure by the Troika.

Tags: state supplies auctions electronic system register
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