The American Chamber of Commerce in Croatia (AmCham) supports the principle of the most economically advantageous tender as the main criterion in selecting bidders in public procurement procedures, and has proposed some solutions for the new law on public procurement to remove the system's existing structural shortcomings, AmCham said in a statement on Tuesday.

Croatian authorities have been working on amendments to the Public Procurement Act to transpose into national legislation EU directives that are designed to reform and modernise the EU's public procurement system.

AmCham Croatia believes that the process should be used to improve the system of public procurement in the country, reads the statement.

Among other things, EU directives point to the importance of applying the criterion of the most economically advantageous tender in selecting a bidder. This topic has already been publicly discussed and AmCham has been dealing with it for three years and emphasizes its importance in the health sector.

AmCham notes that the existing Public Procurement Act already enables the application of the most economically advantageous tender as the criterion for selecting a bidder, however, it notes that that criterion is rarely used in practice and that ordering parties find it easier to choose a bidder based on the price.

"A product's or service's real price is determined by taking into account the overall cost and efficiency in the long run, which includes criteria such as quality and innovation. That way, competition and development of quality products and services for end-users are promoted and public funds are saved in the long run because there is less need for additional maintenance, replacements, etc," said AmCham executive director Andrea Doko Jelusic.

AmCham president Berislav Horvat said that based on the experience of AmCham members - domestically and foreign-owned companies, the main problem for participants in public procurement procedures in Croatia is a lack of legal security, arising mostly from unevenly applied regulations.

He noted that a better and more efficient system of public procurement required more harmonised practices of the State Commission for Public Procurement, the Administration for the Public Procurement System and administrative courts as the three main pillars of the system.

AmCham proposes introducing an e-platform that would make it possible to search decisions by relevant bodies of authority and result in more harmonised positions and greater predictability for participants in public procurement procedures.

Ordering parties should be enabled to request from bidders additional explanations and amendments, so that minor mistakes could be corrected.

AmCham also proposes that the law should define especially significant breaches so that participants in public bidding can know with certainty which procedures will be cancelled, which it believes will help achieve a higher level of legal security and more efficient appeals proceedings.

AmCham believes that not only parties directly involved in bidding procedures but also companies that have been denied access to bidding due to unlawful practices by ordering parties, should be given the possibility to lodge a complaint, which, it says, would encourage more market stakeholders to follow public procurement procedures and thus enable the monitoring of ordering parties' possible unlawful practices and consequently reduce their number and open market competition for a greater number of participants.

AmCham also proposes extending deadlines for appeals proceedings, which it believes are currently too short to enable efficient legal protection.

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