SIX BANKS WILL BE SERVICING THE CUSTOMS OFFICES' ACCOUNTS
The Customs Agency will probably close contracts for servicing the budgetary and deposit accounts of its departments in 2002 with six banks, the BANKER weekly learned.One of the major requirements to the banks bidding in the tender (published in the beginning of November 2001) was that the candidates should be local juristic persons, holding full licences for carrying out banking operations. Moreover, the credit institutions that will be entrusted the operations with the money of the customs administration, should be also on the Finance Ministry's list of banks, authorized to service the national budget. A 5-member commission, chaired by the Customs Agency Deputy Director Bogdana Joneva, had to appraise the bidders' offers by December 21. However, Ms. Joneva who is responsible for the institution's financial matters, was not found out for comments. The Customs Agency's press centre specified that ivitation letters for participation in the tender have been delivered by a messenger to a total of 21 banks. The announcements to the head offices of BULBANK, DSK Bank, United Bulgarian Bank (UBB), EIBANK, and HEBROSBANK (which have still effective contracts with the Customs Agency, expiring in March 2002) inform the credit institutions that these contracts shall not be terminated.The survey of the BANKER weekly found that 14 of all invited banks have submitted documents, and six of them have won the tender. However, their names will be made public after the Finance Minister Milen Velchev says his say.According to well-informed sources, the state-run DSK Bank and Biochim Commercial Bank will certainly undertake part of the servicing of the customs offices' payments. The effective legislation also grants them preferences. Under article 30 of Ordinance for border check-points, their accounts can be serviced only by banks with prevailing state participation. In addition to DSK Bank and Biochim, BULBANK also has branch offices at the border check-points. However, no contract with it was signed before UniCredito and Allianz purchased 98% of its capital.Officials, informed about the results of the bidding, comment that EIBANK and BULBANK will also undertake the servicing of some of the customs' accounts. The contract, signed with EIBANK in the spring of 2001, caused arguments between the Customs Agency's Director Emil Dimitrov and the former deputy finance minister and head of the agency Plamen Minev. Mr. Dimitrov then even threatened to draw out the customs' money from EIBANK. According to Customs Agency officials, however, EIBANK's offer is now one of the best.The initial choice was made after talks with representatives of the competing financial insititutions. The tender dossiers consisted of two forms. Information about the present financial state of the candidates had to be filled in in the first one, and their concrete offer - in the second one. They were also acquainted with the criteria for the overall evaluation. The experience of the banks' personnel in servicing the customs was especially important for the selection. Interest rates on deposits, offered by the bidders, opportunities for integration of the credit institution's software programmes with those used by the customs administration, and terms for issuance of debit cards to the customs' staff, were also among the criteria for evaluation of the candidates' offers.