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Ceturtdiena 18.07.2019 | Name days: Rozālija, Roze
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SEA criticized for surface evaluation of public procurement contenders

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Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RUOn 24 October, Latvian Competition Council’s representatives met their counterparts from Welfare Ministry’s and State Employment Agency to discuss the responsibility of procurement tender organizers on identifying and reporting cartel agreements to authorities.

«In July 2018, the Central Finance and Contracting Agency informed Competition Council of signs of a cartel agreement in SEA’s organized tender on procurement of psychologist and psychiatrist services to unemployed people. Applications submitted by two contenders were very similar. Additionally the two companies were owned by a single family and had the same legal address. Everything pointed towards artificial competition,» the council explains.

Additionally, after going through procurement documents, CC concluded that both contenders often participate and win in different tenders. Because of that, there were serious concerns that the two market participants had coordinated their activities in other procurements. This did not contribute to the goal of honest tenders – receiving competitive and independently formed offers even if owners of companies are relatives.

Considering the institution’s priorities, CC decided not to launch a violation case. Market participants were instead warned. This is possible in situation when the violation is relatively insignificant, companies promise to not repeat similar offences in the future and if the institution’s resources necessary to investigate violations could potentially exceed the benefits for society. Still, CC stores information regarding issued warnings. If violations repeat, an investigation soon follows, the council explains.

Because both applications had similarities, CC explained confusion over the fact that signs of a cartel agreement went unnoticed by SEA. This is the second time this year when public tenders organized by SEA end up in the sights of CC.

«As long as the client remains disinterested in making sure tenders are performed honestly, the volume of cartel agreements will remain unchanged. Our goal is not to punish, rather to ensure honest competition in public tenders, which is not only CC’s responsibility but also that of other state institutions,» CC chairperson Skaidrīte Ābrama comments on uncovered violations.

The council also notes that SEA had reported performing structural changes to ensure quality management of procurements, making them centralized. The institution already invites contenders to fill in confirmation that their offers are developed independently. Additionally, to reduce similar violations in the future, the institution plans to cooperate with Competition Council to train specialists in identifying signs of cartel agreements.


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