State corporations are known to use the excuse of having an “ultra-urgent need” in order to avoid the tender process for the procurement of materials and services, commissioning instead direct concessions and sidestepping the publication of proclamations, according to the public contract watchdog.
Since the start of operations just a few months ago, the Single Independent Authority for Public Contracts (EAADISY) has issued 85 decisions rejecting procurements attempted via direct concessions. In their vast majority they concerned the health sector – suggesting that despite the crisis this domain is still lagging in transparency – followed by local authorities.
The extent of the phenomenon is such that in a letter sent recently by the president of EAADISY, Vassilis Floridis, to Health Minister Andreas Lykourentzos, he said that “in most instances we have observed major delays to tenders caused by the central authorities themselves, as the majority of the tenders have not even been proclaimed, while others are blocked as judicial decisions remain pending.”
The result of these considerable delays is that specific institutions, such as hospitals, whose needs are included in the central tender, demand to be allowed to resort to the exceptional procedure of negotiation, i.e. direct concession, for contracts with a specific time frame until the completion of the central tender. In fact, the needs cited for the negotiation process are constant in most cases and not ultra-urgent, while delays typically do not concern unforeseeable circumstances.
EAADISY officials told Kathimerini that several cases also concerned the procurement of materials where planning has been poor: “When you know that your drugs will last until October, you don’t wait until August to submit a demand for a procurement,” a source from the authority poignantly noted.
What often happens is that concessions for a specific period of time are not extraordinary but successive and their total budget exceeds that included in the original central tender, thereby leading to higher expenses for the cash-strapped state.