The Republic of Moldova had until recently a mixed and centralized public procurement system, the functioning principles of which were laid out in the Public Procurement Law (PPL) adopted in 2007. The centralization of the system consisted in concentration of review and approval process into the hands of Public Procurement Agency (PPA). The procuring procedures could be completed both in electronic and paper formats. The electronic procurement system was introduced gradually and not all procuring authorities had been included into this system, being left only with the paperback method of procurement. Essentially, the e-system is more a register than a fully-fledged procurement system.
In recent years, the Republic of Moldova signed an Association Agreement (AA) with the EU which stipulated steps necessary for adjusting Moldova’s PPL to European legal standards. A new legislation was drafted, which was adopted in 2015 and entered into force in May of 2016. The new Law transposed clauses of 2004 EU Directive and partially of 2014 Directive in the field of procurement into the national legislation. Therefore, among many technical improvements of current Law in comparison with previous one there is one crucial stipulation to fully decentralize the procurement system. Namely, the PPA will be deprived of approval and review functions. The first function will be completely in the hands of procuring authorities, and the latter will be performed by a new independent Review Authority.
Despite the latest legal changes in PPL, there still remain some key challenges to be addressed. First of all, the new Law did not improve the transparency framework of the procurement system. Clear stipulations of obligatory publication and disclosure of all procurement documentation was not included in the legislation. This still leaves the right to give access to such information at the discretion of procuring authority. Secondly, the existing electronic system does not support the efficiency standards of a well-functioning e-system.
These assumptions are verified in the TPPR assessment of Moldova’s PPL. This evaluation uncovered that the most vulnerable spheres of Moldovan PPL is exclusion of some key economic areas and state owned enterprises from PPL coverage, and the serious transparency problems that exist in terms of access to text of complaints, tender candidate applications, bids, decisions of tender commission, procurement contracts and contract performance related information.
To overcome mentioned challenges the Ministry of Finance engaged into a crucial project of electronic system restructuring. With the financial and technical assistance of the European Bank of Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) an upgrade of the existing electronic platform is planned. The new e-procurement system is supposed to resemble Ukraine’s “Prozorro” e-system. In case of successful implementation, it would be a great leap forward, since all procurement procedures will be done only in electronic form, which will ensure the highest standards of transparency and efficiency.