|EBRD UNCITRAL Initiative Workshop in London|
EBRD UNCITRAL Initiative Workshop in London for the delegations from the Kyrgyz Republic, Kazakhstan and Tajikistan
On 9 and 10 July 2013, a group of 13 delegates from the Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan and Kazakhstan visited London in order to participate at the Policy Advice and Regulatory Capacity-Building Sessions prepared for them by the EBRD UNCITRAL Initiative on Enhancing Public Procurement Regulation in the CIS Countries and Mongolia. Representatives of the ministries of finance and economy, state procurement agencies and other procurement-related national institutions came to London seeking assistance relevant for their public procurement reform and modernization of their procurement systems. The sessions were led by international procurement experts and representatives of international institutions such as Samira Musayeva from UNCITRAL, Eliza Niewiadomska and Evgeny Smirnov from the EBRD, Anna Caroline Mueller from the WTO and Tetiana Khavanska from the OECD Anti-Corruption Network. “WTO appreciates very much the good collaboration that it enjoys with the EBRD UNCITRAL Initiative and we hope to continue our supporting role,” said Ms Mueller after the workshop. The Initiative aimed at addressing specific questions and issues related to public procurement faced by of each of the three participating countries. The first day discussions touched upon issues of interest common for all the countries, such as the 2011 UNCITRAL Model Law as a regulatory standard and a toolbox for developing national procurement legislations, use of eProcurement, WTO GPA accession process and the 3rd round of monitoring under the Istanbul Anti-Corruption Action Plan. “Each of delegations, being from countries at a different stage of public procurement law reform, brought something new, useful and important into the discussion and we hope that each of them benefited from the sessions,” said Ms Musayeva from UNCITRAL. The countries are, indeed, different as regards the progress made in the public procurement reform. The Kyrgyz Republic is currently finalising the draft of a new public procurement primary law supported by secondary legislation and the new draft should be submitted to the parliament in September. For Tajikistan, WTO GPA accession is the main driving force behind the public procurement reform, but there are no new legislative drafts currently on the table. Kazakhstan, as Mr Smirnov from the EBRD pointed out, is currently in the process of reviewing its public procurement legislative framework from the point of view of its ongoing economic integration with the Russian Federation and Belarus.
“I believe that the seminar was successful in providing the required assistance to the delegates from the Kyrgyz Republic, since we seem to have been able to help them with finalising the texts of their public procurement legislative reform package,” assessed the workshop Mr Smirnov. The Kyrgyz delegation received assistance with drafting of key parts of the primary law and related secondary regulations to make them compliant with modern international procurement standards. The 2011 UNCITRAL Model Law served as a tool facilitating drafting with respect to the eProcurement, two-stage tendering procedures, treatment of confidential information, challenge proceedings and other issues. “Our dialogue was constructive and we hope that our comments, most of which were accepted by the Kyrgyz delegation during our discussion, will be duly reflected in the final draft law and regulations, which would make them compliant with modern public procurement law standards reflecting best international practice,” said Ms Musayeva. The EBRD UNCITRAL Initiative will provide further assistance to Kyrgyzstan once the primary law is adopted by the parliament this year.
For the Tajik delegation, the 2011 UNCITRAL Model Law as a standard compliant with their WTO GPA accession commitment plays the key role. Tajikistan became a WTO member in March 2013 and upon accession, it accepted the commitment to accede to the GPA agreement too. This topic was first mentioned during the April workshop of the EBRD UNCITRAL Initiative in Vienna and since then the Initiative in cooperation with the WTO Secretariat has been trying to provide as much assistance to the Tajik procurement institutions as possible. “When Tajikistan joined the WTO, it made a commitment to start its GPA membership negotiations by next March. I believe that they are taking this commitment seriously and are working hard to achieve it,” claimed Ms Mueller. Since the current law on public procurement of Tajikistan was based on the 1994 UNCITRAL Model Law, it was important for the delegates to understand what the major changes to the 1994 text were in 2011. Further discussions focused on the eProcurement and other provisions added or amended in the 2011 Model Law as compared to its 1994 version.
While the level of development of eProcurement in Kazakhstan is quite high, the workshop in London provided a larger overview of relevant areas of public procurement which can be enhanced. The current public procurement law of Kazakhstan was prepared taking into account the provisions of the 1994 UNCITRAL Model Law. The government of Kazakhstan is currently reviewing its legislative and institutional framework in order to identify the gaps and the best approach to address them. For this purpose, assistance of the international experts in the EBRD UNCITRAL Initiative team may be helpful. However, the membership of Kazakhstan in the Customs union with Russia and Belarus has to be taken into account in the process, since planned deepening the economic cooperation between the countries also requires closer coordination of their public procurement standards. “This was a very interesting point in the discussion and we hope to be able to address it effectively in the future,” said Mr Smirnov.
The EBRD UNCITRAL Initiative plans to maintain and develop its public procurement dialogue with these three countries after the London workshop. In the Kyrgyz Republic, the next steps of the Initiative will depend on the progress made with respect to the new primary law and will most likely involve further assistance with drafting of implementing regulations. In order to provide relevant assistance to Tajikistan in its effort to join the WTO GPA, WTO Secretariat in cooperation with the EBRD UNCITRAL Initiative pointed out the possibility to organize a national seminar for relevant officials preparing GPA accession in the near future. “Kazakhstan is currently negotiating its accession to the WTO and it is possible that it will undertake a commitment to join the GPA after becoming a WTO member,” said Ms Mueller. The dialogue of the EBRD UNCITRAL Initiative on the 2011 UNCITRAL Model Law with Kazakhstan will keep this possibility on the agenda, since Model Law standards are generally compliant with the WTO GPA. The EBRD UNCITRAL Initiative workshop in London was assessed by the experts and delegates present therein as successful and fruitful not only with respect to the countries’ public procurement reform efforts but also as regards their international commitments and cooperation.