Regulaton & Policy
Bulgarian SMEs to benefit from new legislation, but GPP must be improved

Bulgaria amended its Public Procurement Act earlier this year in line with new EU Public Procurement Directives. Its new public procurement act will benefit small and medium-size businesses, but more could be done to support sustainable public procurement in the country, according to an energy efficiency expert. The European Commission’s Green Public Procurement (GPP) News Alert featured an interview last month with Dr Dragomir Tzanev, of EcoEnergy Municipal Energy Efficiency network, about the efforts being made to support sustainable procurement in Bulgaria and what effect the act will have.

He says that while steps have been made to promote green public procurement, data on the Bulgarian Public Procurement Agency’s website shows that only 59 green tenders were initiated in 2013. Out of these, only 29 have been officially awarded. In the first half of 2014, just 32 have been initiated, with nine of these being awarded so far. Dr Tzanev says that more must be done in Bulgaria to reach European targets for GPP implementation. One measure being taken to amplify implementation of GPP is through Bizportal, which cooperates with EcoEnergy to publish the best practices and examples of GPP. According to Dr Tzanev, monitoring reports will also be provided at the network’s annual conferences to give important information and guidance about GPP.

Some aspects of Bulgaria’s Public Procurement Act came into force in July, and others in October, however the full transposition of directives will take place and be adopted by the National Assembly in mid-2015. These are expected to come into force at the beginning of 2016. Despite Bulgaria’s efforts to develop GPP measures through the National Action Plan for Support of Green Public Procurement 2012-2014, there are still issues that need to be resolved. Dr Tznaev says that one such issue is a low percentage (10 percent) of e-tendering compared to other EU states.

He says, however, that new legislation will benefit SMEs. “SMEs’ access to public
procurement markets and aggregation of demand in the EU published in February and commissioned by the European commission, DG Internal Market and Services, showed that Bulgarian SMEs already perform well in bidding for public contracts. It found that between 2009 and 2011, Bulgaria awarded 77 percent of above-EU-threshold contracts to micro, small and medium-size enterprises – the second-highest out of all EU member states. In general, the study found that Bulgarian SMEs were more successful in accessing above-threshold contracts compared to other EU states.

Nevertheless, Dr Tzanev says that new legislation will provide easier access for SMEs to the procurement market. This will be done by reducing the amount of tender-related documents required and scrapping the need for potential contractors to demonstrate previous public procurement experience. It’s believed that these are two of the main factors deterring and preventing Bulgarian SMEs from entering the public procurement market. The contracting authority must also now consider quality criteria when awarding contracts, rather than just accepting the lowest-price offered. This, Dr Tzanev says, will allow SMEs to compete more with larger companies.

Transparency in the decision-making process will also be improved in order to counter existing corruption.