On January 2, 2019, the public procurement procedure for purchase of 31 buses was announced by Chisinau Town Hall, with an estimated value of 80 million lei. During the last few years, the municipality has failed to obtain offers in several auctions announced in this respect. Only during the year 2018, 3 procedures were canceled due to the lack of offers. Unfortunately, the last procurement procedure, although finalized with the designation of a winner, has been carried out with multiple violations of current legislation:
- The civil society representatives, Andrei Tudos and Vitalie Voznoi, submitted on 29.01.2019 a request for participation in the working/evaluation group. But the contracting authority has "omitted" to include them, thus, violating art. 14 of Law 131 on Public Procurement.
- The deadline for the submission of tenders was 08.02.2019. The Mtender Electronic Procurement page does not indicate when the award decision was taken / announced, but only shows that the contract was also concluded on 08.02.2019, which cannot be true, for at least two reasons. Firstly, Law 131 provides for a minimum waiting period of 11 days, between the date of transmission of the communication through the AIS "SRPP" on the outcome of the application procedure and the conclusion of the contract (Article 32 Law 131). Secondly, even the representatives of the local public authority, declared for the press that the contract was not signed at that moment, however, the buses had been already delivered (some of them were exposed in GNAS- Great National Assembly Square). Lately, it was confirmed that the contract was signed on 20.02.2019.
- The contract was signed with flagrant violation of the legislation in force, as it was known that one of the contestants submitted a complaint to NASC on 18.02.2019. In this regard, the Law 131 stipulates that the contracting authority has no right to conclude the public procurement contract until a final decision on the contestation has been issued by the National Agency for Solving Complaints (para 18, Article.85). Coincidentally or not, starting with 19.02.2019 and until 21.02.2019 (at least) the section dedicated to the appeals in the examination on the NASC page could not be accessed.
- The winning company offered the highest price - 78.08 million lei (excluding VAT) for 31 buses. Although the evaluation criterion set out in the awarding documentation was the price-quality ratio and not just the price, the analysis of the awarding documentation and the submitted bids raise big questions about the fair and impartial evaluation of bids and the fair assessment of the quality factors in the evaluation process. Specifically, the CA required a 3-year warranty for the bodywork (point 2.1), and minimum 24-months warranty for busses (point 4.10), while the winning bidder offered a total warranty of only 2 years or 100,000 km, and this is a guarantee from the producing factory for the intermediary, who will deliver the buses (respecting several conditions).
Another controversial moment is the requirement for buses to be new without specifying the year of production. Meanwhile, the reality shows that purchased buses are not actually new. Moreover, the buses that were exposed in GNAS have already been observed on 21.02.2019 on the route. And more civilian activists, journalists and political opponents have posted pictures and videos demonstrating bus wear.
Moreover, one of the assessment factors was fuel consumption, for which 15 points could be awarded out of the total of 100. By analyzing the documents of the two bidders, we could not make a real comparison of consumption rates, as data are presented for different regimes. How it was possible for the working group to evaluate this without asking for further clarifications from the bidders is not clear.
In conclusion, even if the contracting authority claims that the other bidder has been disqualified due to the non-compliance with the requirements of the awarding documentation, we believe that under these conditions the winning bidder should have been disqualified too.
We rely on the competence and professionalism of the National Agency for Solving Complaints, to analyze correctly and equidistantly the submitted appeal and to issue a decision that will strengthen citizens' trust in its authority.
At the same time, we are counting on the fact that the law enforcement bodies, the NAC (National Anticorruption Center), the Anticorruption Prosecutor's Office, will stand on this case, and will prove that they act in the spirit of the law and in the interest of the citizens of this country.
We also urge the Financial Inspection and the Court of Auditors, who are responsible for ex-post control and financial audit of public procurement, to thoroughly verify this procedure, and those responsible for violating the law be properly sanctioned.
Association for Efficient and Responsible Governance
Andrei Tudos, civic activist and blogger
Vitalii Voznoi, civic activists, representative of the Association “The Beloved City”
Ala Revenco, “Solidary Parents” Association
AO ADR "Habitat"