“Kara and Karin” LLC reported through BizProtect.am website informing that the standards for some products for participation in the public procurement tenders are milder than the requirements for selling them in the stores.
“This is due to the quality of the product. In fact, a company which offers lower-quality products than others, but for the same reason, at cheaper prices can take part in public procurement tender. As a result, often win the products that are not usually sold in the market. For example, some companies supplying a “Narine”-containing product, which does not meet the store’s standards and is not sold at the store, only the company which offer a cheaper price, won. In addition, in this example, food security problems may arise because the cheapest and low-quality product wins. Therefore, we recommend or establish the standards of the products to participate in public procurement so as to comply with the sales requirements at the store at least. So, their quality will rise, the price will rise, and equal conditions will be created for all companies,” reads the report.
It should be noted that on 7 July, the RA Law on Whistleblowing System was adopted. The law envisages the creation of an anonymous information platform in 2018. However, within the framework of the “Evidence-based Advocacy for Reform” project, Bizprotect.am website has already been created. This is a platform to tackle any issues, risks and problems that hinder the business sector, including corruption. The website also provides opportunity to inform about a problem anonymously. Relevant steps are taken to verify the authenticity of these reports and to provide solutions.
Mariam Zadoyan, the Project Lawyer said that a note on this issue had been sent to the Ministry of Finance. In response to the Deputy Minister of Finance Armen Hayrapetyan, mentioned that the proposal provided in the letter is beyond the scope of the procurement field, considering that it concerns to the standardization issue, as well as to the confirmation of the characteristics of the procurement items by the customers.
The answer also states that according to point 1 of part 3 of Article 46 of the RA Law on Procurement, “Any person pursuant to the law is entitled to appeal prior to entering into a contract, the actions (inaction) of the client and the evaluator and the decisions of the Evaluation Commission to the Procurement Appeals Board.” Moreover, according to Article 50, Para.2, point 2 of the Law provides: in case where the person filing the complaint appeals about the subject matter, the requirements of the prequalification statement or requirements of the invitation to tender, the appeal shall be filed prior to the deadline for applications to tender.
“That is, if any person, including a participant of the procedure, has disagreements with the invitation requirements he/she may lodge a complaint to the RA Procurement Appeal Board until the deadline for submission of bids is expired; and upon expiration of the deadline the issue may be appealed in court,” is mentioned in the official answer of the Ministry of Finance.