“EXPERIENCED” ASPHALT MIXING PLANT (2021)
In order to adjust the tender documentation to the exact prearranged bidder, the contracting authorities resort to various methods. This is most often done through the technical specifications of the goods to be procured or through additional conditions that bidders have to meet.
This public procurement is related to the construction of traffic areas with accompanying infrastructure in Novi Sad. However, its peculiarity lies in the fact that the contracting authority limited competition with a request that is neither logically related to the subject of public procurement, nor related to the ability of the business entity to perform the contract. Namely, the contracting authority did not require the bidder to have experience in the construction of traffic areas with supporting infrastructure, which would be expected; instead, the contracting authority requested the bidders to have the equipment with a certain previous experience! In other words, only the bidder with a used asphalt plant, which for the previous three years produced a minimum of 15,000 tons of asphalt mass per year, was allowed to participate in the public procurement procedure. The contracting authority did not require specific characteristics of the equipment, nor, what is strange, the appropriate quality of the asphalt mixture. The only thing required was the previous experience of the equipment itself.
After one of the interested bidders stated the request for protection of rights, the contracting authority justified the requested condition with the need to provide a controlled, reliable, and quality process of asphalt production, and the subsequent transport and laying down of asphalt mixture. As usual, the Republic Commission did not consider in detail the arguments of the applicant, so it fully accepted the allegations of the contracting authority and rejected the request for protection of rights. At the same time, of course, the Commission failed to explain how can the requirement regarding the minimum annual production of asphalt be a guarantee of a controlled and reliable asphalt production process and high-quality asphalt concrete mixture.
Asphalt mixing plants are subject to checks and approvals by the competent authorities, which issue permits for their use thus guaranteeing reliability in their work, so one could rightly ask how the competent authorities can issue permits for asphalt plants which will not be accepted in the public procurement procedure. It is also unclear why the relatively new plant, whose characteristics ensure the quality of the produced asphalt, does not meet the required criteria. Such reasoning of the contracting authority and the Republic Commission would actually mean that it is not good to procure new passenger cars, but only used ones with a certain mileage, because that is the only way in which their reliability can be confirmed!
The result of this public procurement procedure was expected: only one bid was received, and its value was 0.02% lower than the estimated value of the public procurement.
In view of all the above, the contracting authority managed to violate almost all the public procurement principles with only one, completely absurd request – the principles of proportionality, the principle of competition and the principle of cost-effectiveness.