EBRD UNCITRAL Initiative experts Paulo Magina and Tato Urjumelashvili undertook a mission to Dushanbe, Tajikistan, on 23-27 February 2014. The aim was to assess directions for eProcurement reform and understand their scope within the Public Procurement Law, and verify current developments of the eProcurement platform and the capacity to work with auctions and framework agreements.
The experts also participated in a workshop organized by the World Bank on the dissemination of eProcurement, attended a presentation by the Ministry of Finance on budget and treasury management, and met Richard Jones, head of EBRD's representative office in Tajikistan. Simultaneously, the World Bank was conducting another mission with a delegation from Malaysia. This delegation participated in the above-mentioned workshop, sharing their international experience.
The EBRD consultants first met Idiev Hamraliev, head of the Public Procurement Agency (PPA). Experts offered to host a training seminar in Tbilisi, Georgia, on behalf of EBRD, for selected collaborators from the PPA during summer 2014. Mr Hamraliev confirmed the government's commitment to gradually deploy eProcurement until 2015, for which they need to hire IT specialists.
The PPA's deputy director, Ravashan Karimov, who is in charge of implementing the project, explained that the eProcurement system is being used mainly to procure fuel and lubricants. Medical equipment and/or food supplies could follow. There are plans to integrate public systems such as treasury and tax. Only a few contracting authorities are currently using the platform, as many lack the capacity and knowledge. However, there is a clear will to decentralise part of the procurement process and the PPA intends to set up a training programme with local and regional coverage in the second quarter of 2014. Our consultants feel positive about the system's features and capacities.
Paulo Magina and Tato Urjumelashvili also attended a workshop on the dissemination of eProcurement experiences. Participants included local stakeholders and representatives from PPA. They were invited by the World Bank to present the reforms in Georgia and Portugal.
During the mission they conducted some sessions on improving public procurement knowledge in an eProcurement environment. The major focus of the first session was to present the Georgian system in detail with an online demonstration of the different modules, with special emphasis on the eAuction module. The second session was dedicated to the Portuguese experience of selecting, creating, managing and executing framework agreements. Mr Karimov noted how framework agreements can promote eProcurement, achieving quick results in terms of savings, price reductions and standardization, and introduce more discipline and rationality to the procurement of common goods and services. The PPA is under pressure to cut suppliers' prices as they are higher than in the private sector.
The PPA is short-staffed and lacks the knowledge and training to produce results. There is a real need to develop more training programmes and demonstrate best practices. A study visit to Portugal to develop the FA may take place.
On the technical side, the eTendering module needs to be able to run a wider range of procurement procedures, the standard bidding documents need to be worked on and the procurement documentation needs to enable both the PPA and contracting authorities to produce better and sound procurement processes.