As a result of the Public Procurement Act (PPA) that became effective in the New Year, life should be easier for economic operators taking part in public procurement procedures. Instead of collecting and filing numerous documents to prove that they have fulfilled the bid’s qualitative criteria, the new act allows operators to submit a Statement of Fulfilment of the Qualification Requirements as preliminary evidence. Supporting documents will only be required if they are selected as the preferred bidder.

The new PPA (Official Gazette of the Republic of Serbia, no. 91/2019) was adopted by the National Assembly in December and came into force on 1 January 2020, although most of its provisions will be implemented on 1 July 2020. The act introduces changes that comply with EU directives, including the Statement of Fulfilment, which corresponds with the European Single Procurement Document (ESPD), that has yet to be formulated by the Public Procurement Office.

Along with the submission of a bid or application, the new act allows an economic operator to deliver the Statement of Fulfilment of Qualitative Criteria in the standard form, confirming that there are no grounds for exclusion, that it fulfils the selection criteria, and, if applicable, that it fulfils the rules and criteria set down for the reduction of the number of qualified candidates.

In case of a joint bid or if subcontractors are to be used, all economic operators involved must submit the statement, which should also identify the entities responsible for issuing the supporting evidence and confirm that the economic operator will be able to provide supporting documents without delay upon request.

In its statement, the economic operator can provide the internet address of the database (including the pertinent identification data and a declaration of consent) where it is possible to obtain or review the evidence of fulfilment of the qualitative criteria.

Before making a decision, the contracting authority will require the preferred bidder to submit written evidence that they can fulfil the qualitative criteria. (The deadline for submission may vary, but bidders will be given at least five working days to prepare this material.) There are certain exceptions to this requirement, such as if the contracting authority can obtain the evidence on its own, review the evidence based on data in the statement, or if it already possesses such evidence.

If the preferred bidder fails to deliver the required evidence, the contracting authority will reject the offer and invite the second-ranked bidder to proceed.

This is good news for economic operators who are no longer required to collect a vast number of documents before submitting a bid, but only later if they are selected as a preferred bidder. This procedure is expected to decrease the time taken to prepare the bid and lower the costs of participation in public procurement procedures.

The introduction of the Statement of Fulfilment of Qualitative Criteria is a step forward after the establishment of the Register of Bidders kept by the Serbian Business Registers Agency because it will also be available to foreign economic operators who cannot apply to the Register of Bidders. The effects will be seen after July when the new Public Procurement Act is implemented.