An administrative novelty comes early this year from the Serbian Business Registers Agency (“SBRA”) by introducing electronic registration with the Registry of Bidders.
Frequent participants in the public procurement procedures already know well of this Registry and the perks of its membership. Generally, public procurement in Serbia is a rather formal procedure, highly demanding on the volume of documents which need to be submitted on the way to becoming, as the law requires, the most advantageous bidder.
Among these documents is numerous evidence on the non-existence of grounds for exclusion under the Public Procurement Law, such as certificates of non-conviction for certain criminal acts (“Non-Exclusion Evidence”). Bidders whose business entails frequent and large-scale bidding regularly find the procedure for obtaining of Non-Exclusion Evidence an administrative difficulty, having to obtain evidence from various authorities on a tight schedule. Instead, by inscribing in the Registry, bidders are exempt from obtaining the Non-Exclusion Evidence they would otherwise be obliged to, each time they submit a bid.
As of 1 January 2023, bidders can now register with the Registry of Bidders completely electronically, using a qualified electronic signature of the applicant and paying a fee using a payment card. Upon receiving the registration application, SBRA collects the Non-Exclusion Evidence ex officio, i.e., directly from all relevant institutions and their records, and decides within five business days from gathering insight into the relevant information.
This novelty is part of the project “Effective Public Procurement in the Service of Economic Growth”, financed by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency. As part of the project, another interesting step was made towards digitalization of the procurement procedure, as the Public Procurement Portal, used for submission of bids and communication with the procuring entities, is now also available as a mobile app. This should allow easier and faster communication between the bidder and the procuring entity, as both can now receive pop-up notifications on the developments of their relevant bids. Also, a new e-learning platform was established with the intent to acquaint the public with the overall procurement procedure.
In the long run, this step forward in the digitalization direction should boost a bigger ratio of bidders to inscribe in the Registry of Bidders. The latest statistics of NALED show that around 60% of bidders in 2022 were not inscribed in Registry, leaving room for improvement. Ultimately, having perceived the alure of being inscribed in the Registry, the bidders should be (more) willing to participate in (more) procurements, thus acting in favour of fair market competition.
Finally – and intuitively most appealing – bidders should be able to focus their energy on the essence of the public procurement, such as the fulfilment of the qualitative criteria and technical specifications of the tender documentation.
The information in this document does not constitute legal advice on any particular matter and is provided for general informational purposes only.