Changes in public procurement system in Belarus would reduce budget expenditure
In 2017, the parliament should adopt amendments to the Law "On Public Procurement" aimed at strengthening the competition in this area. Annually, the state spends at least 7% of GDP on state procurement orders and every other contract to supply goods and services for the state is carried out with violations of the current legislation. The proposed amendments envisage to reduce government spending on public procurement by at least 10% of the allocated budgetary funds. The state would use the saved funds to finance other needs.
In the autumn of 2017, the Belarusian parliament will consider a new version of the Law On Public Procurement in the second reading. It envisages new options for state procurement orders in construction based on the industry’s specifics. The procurement from one source will become fully transparent, full information about public procurement tenders and received quotes from counterparties will be published, and requirements for suppliers will be unified in order to exclude abuses. Any changes to the signed agreement will be prohibited and participation of affiliated structures in public procurement will be limited.
The amendments to the current legislation are long overdue due to significant financial resources used to purchase goods for the state needs and numerous abuses in this field. In 2016, state procurement totalled BYN 6.5 billion or USD 3.3 billion, which was about 7% of Belarus' GDP. In 2016, more than 800 complaints against violations in the procurement procedure were considered, 45% of them were upheld.
When adopted, the amendments would permit to reduce the share of purchases from one supplier, thereby increasing the competition for public procurement contracts and reducing the price. Suppliers, who would violate the contractual terms within the public procurement would be blacklisted, which would limit for two years their participation in public procurement tenders and enhance the compliance with the contractual terms. Unified requirements to suppliers would reduce corruption in the public procurement system, which often led to inflated prices and payoffs. Transparency in procedures and their automation would enable efficient assessment of the public procurement results and reduce violations and abuses when making contracts. The state aims to save some 10% on public procurement orders due to the enhanced competition and reduced corruption. The saved funds could be used on the social needs or on the support for the economy.
The number of violations in the public procurement system has prompted changes in the current legislation in order to strengthen the competition in this field. Due to the new public procurement regulation, prices on goods and services would reduce, corruption levels would lower and up to 10% of public procurement funds would be saved, which could be used to finance other state needs.
The Belarusian authorities regard the Catholic conference as yet another international event to promote Minsk as a global negotiating platform. Minsk’s proposal to organise a meeting between the Roman-Catholic Church and the Russian Orthodox Church is rather an image-making undertaking than a serious intention. However, the authorities could somewhat extend the opportunities for the Roman-Catholic Church in Belarus due to developing contacts with the Catholic world.
Minsk is attempting to lay out a mosaic from various international religious, political and sportive events to shape a positive image of Belarus for promoting the Helsinki 2.0 idea.
Belarus’ invitation to the head of the Holy See for a meeting with the Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church should be regarded as a continuation of her foreign policy efforts in shaping Minsk’s peacekeeping image and enhancing Belarus’ international weight. The Belarusian authorities are aware that their initiative is unlikely to find supporters among the leadership of the Russian Orthodox Church in Moscow. In Russia, isolationist sentiments prevail.
In addition, for domestic audiences, the authorities make up for the lack of tangible economic growth with demonstrations of growth in Minsk’s authority at international level through providing a platform for religious, sportive and other dialogues.