On 12 August 2015 the Bulgarian Parliament published the bill containing the new public procurement law set to replace the existing procurement regulations. The bill fully implements the new EU directives on public procurement which must be transposed by 18 April 2016, a deadline Bulgaria will likely meet.
Following the public consultation of the bill, which started in April 2015, the Council of Ministers’ expert team finalised the bill and submitted it to Parliament to undergo the standard legislative procedure. Parliament is not expected to consider the bill before the new season starts in autumn. If the bill is approved, the aimed effective date for the new law is 1 January 2016.
A positive feature of the bill is the envisaged early introduction of mandatory electronic procurement on 1 July 2017 instead of the directive’s deadline of 18 October 2018. Electronic procurement is advertised by the EU Commission as one of the means to make public procurement more accessible to interested parties, especially SMEs. Bulgaria envisages the creation of a centralised national electronic web platform for the processing of electronic tenders which will be mandatory for all contracting authorities/entities. While the platform is due to go live on 1 July 2017, some of its functions will not be available until 2020 – such as the electronic evaluation of offers and electronic signing of contracts, payment, invoicing and others.
The bill also introduces the preliminary market consultations, a new concept for the Bulgarian public procurement legislation. This should make communication between potential suppliers and contracting entities/authorities smoother.
The bill preserves the currently existing “buyer profile”, even though it is not a requirement of the directives. This is a dedicated Internet site where each contracting authority/entity must publish certain information about the conduct of the tenders and the performance of signed contracts. Contractors are already concerned about the disclosure to the public of commercially sensitive information. As this will not be changed, tenderers must still be very careful to clearly define in all their bidding documents which information is confidential in order to limit its publication.
In drafting the bill, the Government followed its initial concept of creating a framework law with the particularities of the various public procurement procedures to be elaborated in subsequently issued secondary legislation.