BAIT NOMINATES MOST INCORRECT STATE BUYERS
Bulgarian computer companies are particularly sentitive to the State-organized tenders for delivery of equipment and spare parts. This is easily explained by the fact that almost 80% of the local hardware and software business relies on orders from the State administration and state-run companies. But tenders for computers, organized by budget institutions, often breed discontent in the participants. The Public Procurement Act - intended to regulate such tenders - is most frequently eluded, pundits comment.
The practice of organizing tenders for computer equipment in State institutions was one of the major issues at this week's press conference of the Bulgarian Association for Information Technologies (BAIT). Its representatives seem to have taken courage now when the Government is in resignation and even furnished journalists with a list of the institutions that according to them are most incorrect in that respect. The National Assembly, the Agriculture State Fund, the State Agency for Youth and Sports, the Ministry of Finance, the Supreme Administrative Court, the Ministry of Health Care, and the National Health Insurance Fund, are all on the list.
The nomination was made according to complaints from BAIT members, which have participated in tenders, organized by these institutions in compliance with the Public Procurement Act. The main criterion in rating the bids is usually the price, but it can be often misleading, BAIT points out. For example, legal provisions stipulate that if a company offers a price that is 20% lower than the remaining ones, all filed bids should be considered once again. But there is not a practical mechanism for doing this, and the organizers most frequently take advantage of that and do not reconsider the offers.
The big deposits required from bidders in the tenders are another serious hindrance. The money should be deposited in the bank accounts of the respective institutions and the companies cannot use it while the bidding procedure is in progress. At the same time, the Public Procurement Act does not explicitely say how long the tender procedure can last.
BAIT members also criticized the practice of setting too high prices for tender dossiers. One of the striking instances that was quoted was the tender invited by the Water Supply and Sewage Company of Vratsa for six computers and one copying machine. The tender dossiers were sold at BGL250 apiece.
BAIT will state its views on amendments to the Public Procurement Act and to other administrative acts during its future meeting with representatives of the parliamentary group of the National Movement Simeon II (NMSII). NMSII promised support in principle for the development of the IT business in Bulgaria.
When organizations such as BAIT are concerned, however, it should be born in mind that the interests of the sector frequently differ from the interests of the individual companies, which have appointed their representatives to the leadership of the respective branch organization. In that sense companies, that have so far been favoured by the government could be replaced by new ones, and the market principle will again remain in the background, as it has often happened over the last years.