on the urgent need to ensure sustainability and continuous development
of the MTender Electronic Procurement System
December 18, 2018
The signatory organizations welcome the launch of the MTender Electronic Procurement System, developed and promoted by the Ministry of Finance of the Republic of Moldova, with the support of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, as well as civil society organizations.
Mtender is practically a revolution in the national procurement system. Like any other electronic system, it is not perfect and needs to be updated continuously. But at the moment, it provides access to information regarding the whole cycle of a public procurement procedure, one click away. We recall that, in the past, in order to obtain information from the public procurement dossiers, we should have to wait for months and send several letters to the same contracting authority, while in some cases we could obtain this public information only through court proceedings.
We are aware that the recently launched MTender system is not the key to eliminating corruption, deeply rooted in the procurement system, but it is certainly an excellent opportunity for public procurement to become more transparent and to emerge from the „trade secret” logo. At the same time, the system offers significant opportunities for the business environment. Thus, economic operators no longer invest time and resources to submit paper bids to the contracting authority, to participate in the tender opening meeting, or for necessary clarifications, which have also become public. Currently, through Mtender system, economic agents have possibilty to simultaneously participate in several procurement procedures that take place in different corners of the country, which do not require physical contact with the authorities, thus significantly reducing the risks of corruption.
At the same time, the system contributes to the efficient use of public money by hiring competitors in a real competition through an electronic auction that has already demonstrated savings of up to 50% of the estimated acquisition value and up to 20% of the first received offers. But also outside the electronic auction process, the system offers an open and competitive environment.
Any complex system, such as MTender, may contain certain shortcomings, technical issues which have to be adjusted, corrected and adapted to the needs of contracting authorities, businesses and citizens. But we must be aware that any major change, all the more which involves the accumulation of new knowledge and skills, is usually met with resistance by those who are faced with it. Moreover, the system was launched on a national scale close to the end of the budget year, during a period when contracting authorities are trying to make the most of the available funds. We believe that these are temporary difficulties that can be overcome in the shortest possible time.
In the last period, a wave of dissatisfaction from contracting authorities has led to discussions about the return to either the old SIA RSAP – an electronic register that does not offer the possibility of conducting electronic auctions, as well as very limited access to procurement data, or to the option of gradually including contracting authorities in the system (as in the case of the first SIARSAP, and by 2017 there were just over 300 contracting authorities that mandatory used the system). Another concern is the elusion of transparent procedures through the recent increase of the thresholds for small value procurement. We still insist that these procedures must be fully carried out through the MTender system, starting with a reasonable threshold of about 50,000 lei.
We believe that it is essential to maintain the MTender system through which all contracting authorities will carry out their procurement procedures. We reiterate the importance of fully respecting the basic philosophy of the system “everyone sees everything”, the launch of other types of procedures through MTender as well as developing and launching other useful tools such as business intelligence, risk indicators with automatic notification of control bodies, and others.
At the same time, we call on the Ministry of Finance to further ensure the full functioning of the MTender system, including permanent adjusting of the legal and normative-secondary framework to MTender’s functionalities as soon as possible (identifying all existing divergences). At the same time, we call for the establishment of an effective ex-post control mechanism for procurement procedures to identify deviations. We also call on the Ministry of Finance to draft and submit for approval to the Government a draft Decision that will replace the GD 665/2016, whereby small value procurements over the threshold of 50,000 will be obligatorily carried out through the MTender system, respecting minimum requirements for competition and transparency. At the same time, we call on the Public Procurement Agency to support the transition to the new electronic system by developing detailed instructions to ensure a uniform interpretation of the legislation in force.
Finally, we encourage public authorities to ensure the transparency of all public procurement procedures for goods, services or works in their own sphere of activity, the business community to actively participate in the detection, submitting an appeal to NASC (National Agency for Solving Complaints) and elimination of shortcomings in procurement procedures. We call on the development partners of the Republic of Moldova to further support the initiatives to promote transparency of the public authorities’ activities and the decision-making processes at all levels.
Association for Efficient and Responsible Governance
Institute for Public Policy
Expert-Grup Independent Analytical Center
Institute for Development and Social Initiatives (IDIS) “Viitorul”
Center for Policies and Reforms
Human Rights Association Lex XXI
European Institute for Politics and Reforms
Transparency International Moldova
East Europe Foundation
Legal Resources Center from Moldova
AO “Solidary Parents”
The American Chamber of Commerce Moldova (AmCham Moldova)
Association for Participatory Democracy ADEPT
Agency for Regional Development “Habitat”
Foreign Investors Association