Istanbul Law Review
COVID-19 Measures in Public Procurements: Regulations for Sustainable ProcurementsMuhammed Çelik, Mehmet Yüce
Through its presence in Turkey as in all countries, the COVID-19 pandemic has made its impact felt in all areas of state administration, especially in the health sector. Public procurements are seen as an important tool of development and sustainability by the United Nations and have also been very important in this period, both in terms of procuring medical supplies as well as in ensuring developmental continuity. For this reason, governments have taken a series of measures to ensure that public procurement processes are managed efficiently and effectively under these economic conditions. The measures primarily relate to the types of tender and the procedures for ensuring sustainability in public procurement while also including financial measures. The main objective of the measures taken regarding public procurement is to ensure that procurements in extraordinary periods are made quickly to eliminate any potential grievances. For the process to function quickly and smoothly, new regulations have been made regarding tender and announcement periods, with several facilitating measures having been taken with regard to tender procedures. During the pandemic process, some countries have given administrations wide discretionary powers in managing measures related to public procurement, while others have given administrations limited discretionary powers and equipped them with more discretionary powers. In this process, the use of electronic tools has also increased significantly, and administrations and suppliers are observed to have taken a series of measures to encourage and facilitate the use of electronic tools. In addition, efforts have also been made to inform the public. Financial measures related to public procurement were mostly aimed at meeting the extraordinary resource needs of contracting authorities, while suppliers aimed to improve their financial situations that had deteriorated due to the pandemic measures. Inferences have been made regarding the measures taken for public procurement during the pandemic by analyzing various countries, in particular Turkey and the European Union.
Kamu Alımlarında COVİD 19 Tedbirleri: Sürdürülebilir Alımlar için DüzenlemelerMuhammed Çelik, Mehmet Yüce
COVİD 19 salgını tüm ülkelerde olduğu gibi Türkiye’de de varlığını göstermesiyle birlikte başta sağlık sektörü olmak üzere devlet yönetiminin her alanında etkisini hissettirmiştir. Birleşmiş Milletler tarafından kalkınmanın ve sürdürülebilirliğin önemli bir aracı olarak görülen kamu ihaleleri de hem tıbbi malzeme alımları hem de kalkınmanın devamlılığının sağlanması açısından bu dönemde oldukça önemli olmuştur. Bu nedenle hükümetler, kamu ihaleleri ile ilgili süreçlerin ekonomik şartlarına uygun, verimli ve etkin olarak yönetilmesi için bir dizi önlem almıştır. Önlemler, kamu alımlarında sürdürülebilirliği sağlamak için öncelikle ihalelerdeki şekil ve usulle ilgili olmakla birlikte mali önlemleri de kapsayan düzenlemeleri içermektedir. Kamu alımları ile ilgili alınan önlemlerde temel amaç olağan dışı dönem alımlarının hızlı bir şekilde yapılarak oluşabilecek mağduriyetlerin giderilmesinin sağlanması olmuştur. Sürecin hızlı ve sorunsuz bir şekilde işleyebilmesi için ihale ve ilan süreleri ile ilgili yeni düzenlemeler yapılmış, ihale usullerinde ise bir takım kolaylaştırıcı önlemler alınmıştır Salgın sürecinde kamu ihaleleri ile ilgili önlemlerin yönetimi hususunda bazı ülkeler idarelere geniş takdir yetkileri verirken, bazılarının ise idarelere kısıtlı takdir yetkisi verip daha çok bağlı yetki ile donattığı görülmüştür. Bu süreçte elektronik araçların da kullanımı önemli düzeyde artırılmış, idareler ve tedarikçilerin elektronik araçları kullanımını teşvik edici ve kolaylaştırıcı bir dizi önlem aldığı görülmüştür. Ayrıca kamuoyunun bilgilendirilmesi açısından da çalışmalar yapılmıştır. Kamu alımları ile ilgili mali önlemler ise daha çok ihale makamlarında olağan üstü kaynak ihtiyacının giderilmesine yönelik olurken, tedarikçilerde ise salgın önlemleri nedeniyle bozulan mali durumlarının geliştirilmesine yönelik olmuştur. Salgın döneminde kamu alımlarına yönelik alınan önlemlerle ilgili olarak başta Türkiye ve Avrupa Birliği olmak üzere çeşitli ülke incelemeleri yapılarak çıkarımlarda bulunulmuştur.
COVID-19 had emerged in the Wuhan region of the People’s Republic of China as of December 1, 2019 and went on that month to affect the entire world, especially developed countries. COVID-19 has been labeled a pandemic by the World Health Organization, causing new normal measures to be taken in all areas. Although COVID-19 has primarily affected the health sector due it being a pandemic, the necessary measures and other pandemic policies taken as a result have had impacts in almost all areas, especially on the economy. Research on its devastating effects on the economy have shown the pandemic to have crippled the economy at a rate exceeding that of the 2008 global crisis and approaching that of the Great Depression. Meanwhile, when considering the World Bank’s global economic forecast, GDP has been revised downwards, with national governments facing difficult times regarding poverty reduction and job creation.
The social crises experienced during the pandemic have also deeply affected public procurements, which are an important dynamic of economic development. In general, public procurements are an important tool for governments’ management of sustainable public services as well as for the market economy. Governments and global institutions had been caught unprepared for the pandemic, during which they have need urgent medical supplies; the market was dragged into a bottleneck as a result of the increase in demand, causing the normal period of public tenders to lose their functionality. This situation would cause countries to compete with each other in the market and created an effect that can be described as “Cowboy Market”. All these effects have required new regulations to be made and various measures to be taken regarding the pandemic, and this was also an extraordinary period with regard to public procurement legislation. To say that these regulations are not only sensitive to providing short-term medical purchases but also purchases in almost all other areas would not be wrong, due to the concern of ensuring the continuity of public procurement, which is the driving force of sustainable development in the United Nation’s 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.
The measures taken regarding public procurement during the pandemic have been seen to generally be made through various unnamed regulatory acts that make the provisions in countries’ national public procurement legislation more explanatory and/or flexible. Because social distance rules have also been very important in terms of staying healthy during the pandemic, all countries have encouraged the use of electronic methods in public tenders. The main purpose of these measures is to complete the tender process very quickly and simply within the pandemic measures. In addition to financial protective measures to ensure the sustainability of public procurements during the pandemic, different legal measures are seen to have come to the fore in two stages to eliminate experiencing problems: one for the public tender process, and another for the tender contracts.
When looking at the legal measures regarding the public tender process, measures are seen regarding continuing the execution of public tenders through the use of electronic solutions or to hold procurements by adhering to social distance rules if this cannot be carried out. In addition, the legal norms regarding the formats and procedures related to procurement are also seen to have been stretched and equipped with measures that are able to achieve rapid results. When looking at the measures that have been taken regarding public procurement procedures during the pandemic, the contracting authorities in developing countries such as Turkey are seen to have been equipped with more subordinate authority, while the administrations in countries with developed democracies such as the European Union are seen to have been equipped with wide discretionary powers on the condition that they adhere to the principles of transparency and accountability. When looking at the measures taken regarding the obligations arising from public procurement contracts, the condition arises with regard to force majeure provisions that prevent the contractor from fulfilling its obligations. Depending on the severity of the force majeure, various measures can be taken such as the extending or terminating the delivery period of the contract, applying price changes, or transferring contracts with the aim of protecting public interest and taking measures to relieve contractors from being victimized. Due to bureaucracy being very low in developed democracies in general, one can see a fast and effective system that works within the pandemic conditions regarding tender contracts, while countries such as Turkey see the density of bureaucracy reduce efficiency, despite having similar legislative provisions. In addition to all these regulations, certain regulations were observed to have been made in some countries that prioritized the participation of SMEs in tenders, with some potential contractors in the USA who are also suppliers of some public procurements have been obliged to participate in procurement. Some countries, especially in the European Union, have determined central purchasing policies regarding medical purchases. Colombia requires the word COVID-19 be used in procurement contracts in order to facilitate traceability with regard to procurement, while other countries such as South Africa and Ukraine have an undersecretary predetermine items, suppliers, and prices and use a list to keep prices under control to prevent abuse of public procurement procedures, with purchases being made based on this list.