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Introduction

The COVID-19 outbreak has brought unprecedented challenges for governments to ensure not only the health of their citizens but also public service continuity. Public procurement strategies and infrastructure plans are at the frontline of countries’ responses to the COVID-19 crisis. Governments have to purchase urgently vital health products and services needed in the immediate response to the COVID-19 crisis while at the same time they have to ensure the smooth and accountable management of ongoing contracts needed for ensuring public services to their citizens. Functioning critical infrastructure is also particularly important during the COVID-19 response not only for public health and safety but also for community well-being. Certain critical public services and infrastructure industries have a special responsibility to continue operations during these unprecedented times.

This stocktaking report, prepared by the OECD Secretariat, provides a snapshot of the immediate policy responses in the initial phase of the COVID-19 crisis by governments in OECD, the European Commission and non-OECD countries using publicly available information. The report was developed as a response to requests from some OECD members to collect evidence on how countries were responding to these unprecedented challenges. The information was collected between 30 March and 6 May 2020.

The report documents the special measures taken by 30 OECD countries and partners. It provides evidence on institutional arrangements and monitoring rules that were introduced for emergency contracting of critical items needed for the current COVID-19 situation and the support provided by the respective ministry or public procurement central body to the contracting authorities, especially in terms of supplier and ongoing contract management. Regarding infrastructure governance, the report presents the actions on identifying critical infrastructure, setting up new or temporary infrastructure and repurposing of already existing infrastructure. The country factsheets also presents innovative, out-of-box solutions.

The country factsheets were validated by country representatives and delegates to the Working Party of the Leading Practitioners on Public Procurement.

Given the emergency context, this document was prepared and released as rapidly as possible, and is likely to be edited and improved over time as more information becomes available.

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Summary

During the COVID-19 crisis, targeted and effective public investment is more than ever necessary to ensure governments react swiftly to the consequences of the pandemic. This public investment, be it for obtaining necessary health products and supplies, or for providing essential public services and maintaining relevant infrastructures (physical and digital), is channelled mainly through public procurement. Therefore the impacts of chosen procurement strategies have an immediate effect on the effectiveness of policies for dealing with the pandemic and its social and economic consequences. Those strategies and approaches are, and will be, different depending on the phase of the crisis and the challenges encountered at each one, equally diverse.

In the first phase of the crisis, the focus is on managing and ensuring the emergency response, providing immediate responses to a global pandemic. This phase requires mainly rapid, reactive procurement and infrastructure responses to provide immediate relief amid critical events that have a direct impact on life or public safety and where any delay would result in increased harm to individuals and the community.

The second phase which follows can open the opportunity for re-assessing the situation; gaining a better understanding of the consequences and impacts of the global pandemic and adjusting the procurement and infrastructure strategies to address the new challenges of the crisis. In this phase, while emergency responses are still required due to the need to respond urgently to sustain and maintain public services and thus the communities, there is no direct impact on human life and no threat to significant infrastructures.

In the third phase, the focus would be on recovery policies, addressing consequences and impact of the crisis and rebuilding of societies and economies. This phase comes once the emergency has been contained and activities are returning to normal, including the procurement processes and infrastructure developments themselves. There is no longer an urgent need to respond, but there may be a need to rapidly activate non-essential procurement activities to contribute actively to the recovery of the economy and society, building on the strategic role that public procurement can play in the recovery phase. This phase could also provide an opportunity to revisit the procurement and public investment plans and make the necessary adjustments with the view of meeting recovery needs.

This stocktaking report is focusing on the first phase, when governments have to purchase urgently vital products and services needed in the immediate response to the COVID-19 crisis. It will be followed by other editions unveiling public investment practices and strategies of governments to deal with the stages ahead. Indeed, procurement and infrastructure development will also have a decisive and strategic role in the wide government responses for the post-crisis recovery. This global crisis will certainly reshape the way governments are investing public money in essential goods, public services and infrastructure. It is likely that public procurement practices will not simply return to the “usual business”, but rather transform to a “new normal” building on the vulnerabilities revealed by the COVID-19 crisis. The crisis has revealed many weaknesses and fractures in our infrastructure from health care to digital technology at schools. More focus is needed on these vulnerable areas in the future, and with a clear ‘sustainability’ test. Procurement and infrastructure strategies should serve inclusiveness and sustainability as well as build resilience, beyond delivering economic goals.

Procuring essential products and services under extreme urgency is not a new concept for public authorities. In almost all countries, particularly in the OECD area, there are already well-designed and tested special rules and/or institutional arrangements related to tendering and contracting during emergencies. However, it became obvious in the early stage of this worldwide health crisis that COVID-19 had created a purchasing environment never before experienced by governments and public bodies. Purchasing needs to be done not only with extreme urgency, but also under high uncertainty and within a rapidly changing landscape.

Governments are experiencing extremely high demands for the same specific medicines, health and personal protective products due to the worldwide nature of the epidemic. Not only are countries rushing for the same products and services, but central governments have also become internal competitors with their regional and local authorities for the same vital supplies. In many jurisdictions, the procurement of health products falls within the remit of regions, municipalities and, sometimes, even individual hospitals. Yet, a co-ordinated approach to procure these products has never been more necessary to avoid chaotic competition between public buyers.

At the same time, production in certain parts of the world has been seriously disrupted (or even fully stopped) due to the restrictive measures introduced by the governments in order to stop or at least slow the outbreak of the epidemic. Some countries imposed export prohibitions and restrictions on essential goods, such as masks and ventilators to mitigate critical shortages at the national level. The market has also started to react in a different way to demands from the public sector, compared to what is normally expected. In addition, many suppliers are demanding advance payment to secure supplies, and in some cases that is not even enough of a guarantee to secure the goods. Public buyers are experiencing price volatility of essential goods and services. The extremely high demand for certain products has also increased the risks of fraud and misconduct by suppliers and service providers.

Aside from the procurement of essential goods and services, the constantly evolving COVID-19 situation creates many uncertainties for procurement professionals, as well as for the supply chain. Many suppliers are struggling to meet their contractual obligations because of restrictions, putting their financial viability and their supply chain at risk. Contracting authorities therefore need to act to support their at-risk suppliers so that they are better prepared to cope with the current crisis and can resume normal service delivery when the outbreak is over. Beyond procuring items directly needed for the fight against the virus, contracting authorities need to properly manage their ongoing contracts (and tender procedures, if any).

The stocktaking report evidences that

  • public procurement is at the frontline of many countries’ responses to the crisis, with the need to increase co-ordination and enhanced flexibility

  • countries generally use their established frameworks for emergency contracting whilst at the same time providing additional guidance and support to their contracting authorities on how to use them correctly

  • centralised and co-ordinated approaches on supranational, national and regional levels are being introduced to avoid sending competing messages to the market and to join forces against the COVID-19 pandemic (such as in Germany, Italy or by the European Commission)

  • public buyers are engaging with suppliers more often to find innovative and alternative solutions for their needs, and they are looking at alternative sourcing (such as in Canada, Italy, Korea, UK and USA)

  • emphasis was put on improved transparency and accountability related to emergency contracting in most of the countries (such as in Colombia, Latvia, Peru)

  • preliminary lessons from the current situation suggest the need to re-think risk and contract management frameworks in future procurement procedures and contracts

  • countries are looking for shovel-ready infrastructure projects to support economic recovery and several countries will be investing in infrastructure-led recovery programmes (such as Canada and New Zealand)

  • to mitigate negative growth effects, countries are trying to accelerate the pace of infrastructure development and to identify projects which can provide immediate benefits, thus underscoring the impetus and the need for better governance of infrastructure (such as France)

While the aim of this stocktaking report is to present comparative evidence on the immediate responses to the crisis in its first phase, key lessons learnt will be extracted and policy insights developed, in separate forthcoming policy briefs.

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Country Factsheet: Australia

Introduction

There are currently approximately 6,000 cases of COVID-19 in Australia. From 9pm 20 March 2020, only Australian citizens, residents and immediate family members were able to travel to Australia. All travellers to Australia are required to self-isolate for 14 days, and from 28 March, all travellers arriving in Australia are required to undertake their mandatory 14-day self-isolation at designated facilities. Interstate travel is possible, but individual states have introduced a requirement to self-isolate for 14 days after arrival.

Immediate public investment policy responses

On a Commonwealth level, The Australian Health Sector Emergency Response Plan for COVID-19 has been published on the Australian Government website, and is designed to guide the Australian health sector response, including the procurement response1 This plan states that the Australian Government will fast-track assessment and approval of a customised vaccine, should this become available; procure vaccines; develop a national novel coronavirus vaccination policy and a national novel coronavirus immunisation program; and communicate immunisation information on the program to the general public and health professionals.

As part of the Department of Health, the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) is providing active support for monitoring a number of issues relating to procurement of therapeutic goods including medicines and medical devices in response to COVID-19.

So far, both face masks and ventilators have been procured at a commonwealth level in an attempt to contain the outbreak.2

All states and territories (except NSW)3 have declared a state of emergency (or public health emergency), allowing Chief Medical Officers to have full authority to make health-related decisions. A number of these decision are ultimately having an effect on procurement practices, such as allowing for emergency procurement to take place.

On a state level, most states and territories have issued some kind of emergency procurement guidance for contracting authorities.

  • Western Australia has issued a Buyer Alert guide, prescribing when it is appropriate for CAs to use emergency procurement procedures4, and released information on how additional emergency goods are being procured through Common Use Arrangements (framework agreements).5

  • Queensland has issued a number of updates and key messages throughout the pandemic, primarily focused on promoting flexibility in procurement, prioritising the use of local and regional suppliers and maximising opportunities for collaboration with industry.6 They have also issued a detailed emergency procurement guide, which divides emergency responses into three categories: emergency response; sustained emergency relief; and recovery response.

  • New South Wales has created a COVID-19 Emergency Supplies registration portal,7 where suppliers that have the capacity to provide critical supplies, raw materials or manufacturing capability to produce critical supplies during the COVID-19 crisis can register their interest to provide such supplies.

  • South Australia has created a COVID-19 Major Emergency Procurement Policy, which enables the State Procurement Board’s standard requirements relating to procurement processes, including acquisition planning, to be waived for as long as the policy remains in force (subject to a number of transparency and reporting conditions8).

  • Tasmania has created Better Practice Guidelines (COVID-19 Emergency Procurement Measures), outlining how their legislation can be applied in times of crisis.9

Economic reference

On 12 March, the Australian Government announced a federal economic stimulus package of AUD 18 billion with measures to support investment and cash flow assistance for small business:10

  • The Government is increasing the instant asset write-off threshold from AUD 30 000 to AUD 150 000 and expanding access to include businesses with aggregated annual turnover of less than AUD 500 million (up from AUD 50 million) until 30 June 2020.

  • The Boosting Cash Flow for Employers measure will provide up to AUD 25 000 back to small and medium sized businesses, with a minimum payment of AUD 2 000 for eligible businesses. The payment will provide cash flow support to businesses with a turnover of less than AUD 50 million that employ staff. The payment will be tax-free. This measure will benefit around 690 000 businesses employing around 7.8 million people

Out of the box initiative/solution

The Australian Government has partnered with the private hospital sector to ensure that their health system is fully prepared to treat patients as required, through the coronavirus pandemic. This new partnership has guaranteed the viability and capacity of the private hospital sector, who will ensure over 30,000 hospital beds, and the sector’s 105,000 skilled workforce, is available alongside the public hospital sector. The Commonwealth will offer agreements to all 657 private and not-for-profit hospitals to ensure their viability, in return for maintenance and capacity during the COVID-19 response.

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Country Factsheet: Austria

Introduction

As of 15 April, Austria registered over 14,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases and close to 400 deaths. The country introduced a nation-wide lockdown to limit the spread of COVID-19 on 16 March. The containment measures include closure of schools, universities, bars, restaurants and commercial activities. People are asked to stay indoors except for essential activities. The government also introduced an obligation to wear facemasks as of 6 April. A gradual re-opening of the country starting in mid-April has been announced.

Two task forces, namely one within the Ministry of Health and the second within the Ministry of Interior lead the overall emergency response.

Immediate public investment policy responses

Public Procurement

In terms of procurement responses to the pandemic, the Ministry of Justice has issued guidance on how to apply public procurement rules in the COVID crisis, focusing on emergency procedures, possible changes to contracts, the use of e-procurement as well as payments. The COVID-19 Accompanying Law to Public Procurement, reinstates, among other provisions, the regular time limits for review procedures after 6 April 202011, which had been amended by the COVID-19 Accompanying Law on Administrative Procedures (COVID-19-VwBG)12.

Furthermore, relevant budgetary measures have been introduced by Parliament to respond to the emergency13. This involves a special budgetary law that enables the Ministry of Finance to distribute procured facemasks, protective equipment and ventilators. The Ministry of Finance shall act in agreement with relevant ministries14.

Media reported that the Ministry of Finance is expecting delivery of 20 million facemasks from China, Germany and Malaysia15. Similarly, the Ministry of Health released media communication on orders worth EUR 84.5 Million for personal protection equipment (PPE) and ventilators during the period 13 March to 30 March. For April, there is already an order volume of EUR 40 Million16. Austrian lawmakers relaxed rules regarding the certification of facemasks that are being suspended for the period of the emergency. Masks will be available for purchase in supermarkets. The non-certification shall be clearly marked.

The Austrian Red Cross carries out the emergency purchasing activity acting on behalf of the Federal Ministry of Digital and Economic Affairs, covering nation-wide needs regarding emergency goods, such as mask and other medical products17. Given its experience and know-how in handling of emergencies it is well placed to deal with procurement activities in this crisis.

An important feature of the COVID-19 response in Austria is related to the coordination of the procurement response, as local and federal actors quickly recognised the need for concerted action. Namely, coordination is ensured at central level by the Austrian Federation through the collection of demand for emergency goods from the federal states through a digital tool (see section IV below). Regional entities communicate their needs to the Ministry of Health, which validates and consolidates these into a list together with the Ministry of Digital and Economic Affairs. The final list is then communicated to the Red Cross, which ultimately carries out the procurement process on behalf of the Ministry of Digital and Economic Affairs. The delivery of goods occurs in a central place, and the final distribution and logistics is also organised by the Red Cross.

The Central Purchasing Body, BBG will take over the procurement process from the Red Cross starting end of June/early July. It is preparing dedicated framework agreements in preparation of a potential resurge of demand.

During the peak of the pandemic, BBG prepared communication on relevant available framework agreements to secure supplies in the pandemic. BBG also warned its clients of potential shortages. From the information on its website, available framework agreements from BBG include18:

  • Hygiene products (hand sanitisers and disinfectants)

  • Protective wear (face mask and protective glasses, protective clothing)

  • Alternative options for work (container systems, videoconferencing)

  • Food

  • E-learning-systems and notebooks, monitors

Infrastructure

Regarding infrastructure, the coronavirus crisis led to the activation of Masterplan for the Protection of Critical Infrastructure19. A key issue is ensuring continuity of activities in face of potential lack of personnel due to contraction of the virus. Media reports that critical institutions such as the fire brigade, the ambulance service are taking measures to reduce the risk of contagion, such as reducing activities to the minimum and organising personnel transfers. Pools of volunteers stand ready to back up potentially missing human resources. Similarly, personnel in central control rooms of electricity and water operators use protective gear and keep separate from another20.

Economic reference

To offset economic damages caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, a total fiscal package of currently EUR 38 billion (10% of GDP including credit guarantees and tax deferrals) is gradually implemented and operationalized. The budget envelope includes various measures such as emergency funds for hard-hit industries (EUR 15 billion), credit guarantees (up to EUR 9 billion), tax deferrals (up to EUR 10 billion) for personal income and corporate income taxes. An envelope of EUR 4 billion includes funds to short-time workers (EUR 1 billion), as well as EUR 1 billion for hardship cases.

The Austrian Research Promotion Agency (FFG) is disbursing EUR 36 million through an emergency-call to develop research on COVID-19 by Austrian firms. The government has procured around EUR 13 million worth of medical supplies21.

Out of the box initiative/solution

To collect needs in real-time from health operators on the ground, Austrian authorities put in place open‑access web-based tool, in which hospitals and other relevant entities can log in their demand for relevant emergency goods on a daily basis. This information is bundled by the crisis management unit at the Ministry of Health, and allows to have an accurate view of needs for procurement purposes.

References / useful resources

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Country Factsheet: Belgium

Introduction

In Belgium, COVID-19 spread rapidly resulting in 53,081 confirmed cases and over 8,656 deaths by 10 May 2020. It should be noted that these deaths are recorded both in hospitals and in retirement homes. Similarly to European peers, the country tightened containment measures with the closure of non‑essential shops and retail outlets. Citizens have been asked to stay indoors except for daily necessities and work, if teleworking is not an option. Initially announced for the period of 18 March till 19 April, confinement measures were extended to 8 June. Successive steps to progressively ease the confinement were foreseen as of 4 May.

With respect to health care, Belgium’s multiple layers of government and regional autonomy result in an important coordination effort, whereby eight ministers have various responsibilities. The coordination takes place through an inter-ministerial conference, which was held on 2 March to address the COVID-19 emergency. As of 12 March 2020, the National Security Council introduced the so-called “federal phase of crisis management”, whereby the health emergency is managed centrally by the Prime Minister’s Office. The National Crisis Centre further coordinates policy responses22.

Immediate public investment policy responses

Procurement

Public procurement of goods needed to face the emergency, particularly face masks, is carried out by the federal state and federated entities (regions). A dedicated tasks force has been set up to monitor supplies and communicate orders, when necessary. The distribution of equipment is managed by the Province Governors. The authorities are distributing face masks in priority to hospitals, ambulances, sorting centres, health professionals, among others23.

In addition to the above, the government took part in the European joint tender as a means to centralise demand and reduce time for negotiations among contracting authorities and suppliers24. The government announced that by 24 March, 16,500,000 surgical masks arrived in Belgium for distribution, including 544,000 FFP2-type masks. In total, Belgian authorities placed orders for 30,500,000 masks, which include 5,359,000 FFP2 masks. A strategic stockpile was also created amounting to 422,060 masks, of which 286,510 are surgical masks and 135,550 consist of FFP2-type masks25.

In terms of policy measures, the second part of the Federal Plan for Social and Economic Protection adopted on 20 March 2020 includes a number of provision relevant for public procurement at federal level. These measures aim particularly at supporting SMEs and government contractors that may experience difficulties as a result of the health crisis. Namely, contracting authorities will not impose penalties for delays in contract execution for suppliers proven to be affected by COVID-19. Moreover, contracting authorities are asked to speed up payments26.

Beyond that, the Public Procurement Services of the Federal Chancellery published guidance in the form of answers to FAQ27. The guidance covers topics related to emergency procurement such as the application of negotiated procedure without previous publication, shortening the time frame for tender requests, extending the time period for receipt of tenders and cancelling a procedure if there has not been an award. The guidance also covers the possibility of modifications or revision of contracts for unforeseeable circumstances.

Furthermore, the Walloon Government introduced a circular on 26 March 2020 providing additional guidance for contracting authorities under its jurisdiction. The circular recommends a prolongation of deadlines for on-going procedures until after 20 April 2020. New contracts shall not be awarded before that date. Finally, requests for modifications or revision of contracts for unforeseeable circumstances shall be taken into account28.

The Flemish Government introduced a circular on 10 April 2020 providing guidance for contracting authorities under its jurisdiction, as well as measures aimed at avoiding or reducing liquidity problems in government contractors. The Flemish agency for innovation and entrepreneurship (VLAIO) offers flexibility in conditions for support measures and grants: enterprises which, as a result of the crisis, find it difficult to meet the deadlines set for certain VLAIO grants may consult with VLAIO the possibility of extending these deadlines. Furthermore, the Flemish Government provides guidance by means of a FAQ that is updated on a regular basis and covers the most relevant public procurement issues related to the current health crisis.

The Government of the Brussels-Capital Region approved recommendations on 9 April 2020 regarding the management of the consequences of the crisis related to COVID-19, including recommendations to contracting authorities regarding public contracts.

Infrastructure

In terms of management of critical infrastructure, a dedicated Operational Unit coordinated by the National Crisis Centre ensures that the crisis infrastructure is fully operational, and guarantees that the crisis units will be alerted if needed29.

The Flemish government has adopted an emergency decree that introduces a temporary derogation for notification and request of environmental permit for the construction of hospitals, production facilities for medicines and medical equipment as well as research facilities for the purposes of assessing the public health emergency30. In addition, a road map for the establishment of buffer care centres (schakelzorgcentra), i.e. emergency centres that can accommodate patients when hospitals are at risk of becoming overcrowded, has been set up. Depending on the need, up to 30 centres can be set up in Flanders.

Economic reference

The Belgian federal government has announced fiscal measures worth EUR 10 billion (approximately 2.5% of GDP) to support the economy in the wake of the pandemic. Additional EUR 50 billion are foreseen as guarantees for new bank to companies and self-employed. The fiscal support is meant to address health expenditure, support for temporary unemployment and independent employment, as well as support through postponement of tax and social security payments. The regional governments of the federated entities (regions and communities) are providing additional fiscal measures worth EUR 3 831 billion as well as bank loan guarantees to support companies and self-employed 31. Next to these budgetary measures, the different governments took a number of key measures without budgetary impact to alleviate the economic relapse induced by COVID-19, support the healthcare sector and tackling the social consequences of the crisis32.

References / useful resources

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Country Factsheet: Chile

Introduction

The COVID-19 pandemic has reached Chile as well as many other countries in Latin America. Its first case was confirmed on March 3, 2020. On February 8, the Ministry of Health issued Decree No. 4 that announced an alert for health emergency. Decree No.6 was issued on March 7, 2020, granting extraordinary powers to the various contracting authorities of the health sector to prevent the spread of the virus, ensure adequate sanitation of crowded spaces, strengthen the health infrastructure and efficiently distribute resources, among others. Decree No. 6 was complemented by Decree No. 1033, issued on March 24, 2020, granting powers to the various contracting authorities of the health sector to establish maximum prices for medical and pharmaceutical products, as well as health benefits, and sanitary services. It also allowed the definition of a maximum number of goods and services to be acquired per person. Besides, it also allowed Health authorities to a coordinated use of public and private health infrastructure, at defined costs.

On March 18, the Ministry of Interior and Public Security declared State of Catastrophe. (Estado de Excepción Constitucional de Catástrofe, por calamidad pública, en el territorio de Chile), which will be valid for 90 days from March 19, through the Decree N°104-2020. The government of Chile publishes its action plans against COVID-19 (Plan de Acción por Coronavirus) in its website.

Immediate public investment policy responses

Special rules for emergency contracting of critical items

The Directorate of Government Procurement and Contracting of Chile (ChileCompra) of the Ministry of Finance, one of the main central purchasing bodies of Chile, established a special section on its website dedicated to inform about procurement under the pandemic situation of COVID-19 on March 18, 202034.

In Chile, Article 5 of Law on Public Procurement (No.19886) and Article 9 of its Regulation (Decreto 250), as a general rule, require public entities to undertake an open tender. However, Article 8. c) of the Law on Public Procurement (No.19886) foresees direct awarding under the emergency without carrying out competitive tender procedures. In accordance with this article, the Decree No.6, issued on March 7, 2020, allows contracting authorities to carry out direct award without tender procedures for the procurement of the goods, services, or equipment that are necessary to address emergency under the pandemic situation. However, contracting authorities are still required to maintain the same integrity standards as usual, and to publish the contract information later in the portal www.mercadopublico.cl. With this purpose, ChileCompra has issued Guidelines to facilitate procurement for purchasing agencies, without diminishing integrity and transparency standards (see below). Besides, an instruction was issued to purchasing entities as to identify purchasing orders related to the emergency with a special code (COVID), with the aim of facilitating monitoring.

Support provided to the contracting authorities

ChileCompra has been taken the following measures in order to facilitate the administrative processes of contracting authorities:

  • Publishing templates

ChileCompra published the necessary templates for:

(i) authorising the omission of Grandes Compras (competitive tender procedures through framework agreements if the amount exceeds 1 000 UTM) through framework agreements,

(ii) setting new tender closing date of ongoing open tenders, and

(iii) authorising direct awarding

  • Supply list of critical products

ChileCompra also publishes and updates regularly the following lists:

(i) List of products available through framework agreements for Emergency COVID-19 (Paleta de productos Convenio Marco por Emergencia COVID-19) and

(ii) List of suppliers providing critical products (Listado de proveedores con disponibilidad de productos críticos), in EXCEL formats. (Latest update is June 10)

  • Helpdesk

ChileCompra opened a helpdesk so that contracting authorities can consult on the emergency procurement procedures under the pandemic situation.

  • Implementation of the “Compra Ágil” tool:

In order to make purchase under 30UTM (aprx. 1500USD) faster and agile, and promote small business participation in public procurement, “Compra Ágil” tool was announced by the Minister of Finance as a fundamental part of the “Economic Plan to Overcome CoronaVirus Emergency” in March 2020. Public officers sent their quotation requests through the platform and receive responses from the suppliers. All purchases should receive a minimum of 3 quotations, which are stocked in the platform to assure transparency and competitiveness. Use of this mechanism is mandatory for public entities. Users’ guide (both for suppliers and purchasing officers) were developed. Please see for more information: https://www.chilecompra.cl/compraagil/

  • Guideline nr 34:

Recommendations to public officers as to optimize purchasing procedures using online mechanisms and electronic signature, and to reduce barriers to smaller companies participation.

  • Guideline nr 35:

Recommendations to public officers for the use of Compra Ágil tool.

  • Guideline nr 36:

Recommendations to public officers for a better use of direct deal purchasing process during the COVID 19 emergency

See here the three guidelines: https://www.chilecompra.cl/category/centro-de-documentacion/normativa/directivas-de-compra/

Economic reference

Please see here: “Economic Plan to Overcome CoronaVirus Emergency”: https://www.gob.cl/planeconomicoemergencia/

Out of the box initiative/solution

Subsidy system to support the investments in reinforcing manufacturing lines of masks

In order to prepare the list of suppliers, ChileCompra invited suppliers to provide the information on the following products and availability of stocks through its website on 30 March.

  • Mask (N95; preformed conical and / or three folds)

  • Chest pads

  • Disposable gowns

  • Alcohol gel 70%

  • Jumbo paper towel for dispensers

  • Latex gloves

  • Facial goggles

  • Infrared (proximity) thermometers

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Country Factsheet: Colombia

Introduction

On 12 March 2020 the government declared a state of economic and social emergency and mandated a compulsory lockdown in the entire country from 25 March to 13 April. The Colombian government further closed its borders to both foreign and Colombian non-residents. Private sector companies as well as public entities have been instructed to telework. The country is currently providing aid to most vulnerable populations in the form of cash transfers and has provided benefits and tax reliefs to SMEs. Imports of medical supplies are exempt from VAT temporarily.

Immediate public investment policy responses

Procurement

  • Exceptionally excluding the procurement of medical devices and personal protection items needed for the fight against COVID-19 from the public procurement regime. The procurement of such items will be done following private law dispositions moving forward and until the crisis is overcome.

  • Foreign companies interested in supplying medical devices and personal protection items to public entities will no longer need to open a branch in Colombian territory.

  • A report on the purchases of medical devices and personal protection items has to be submitted to the corresponding controller authority within three days following the execution of the contract.

  • Emergency procurement for additional goods/services (different from medical devices and personal protection items), which entails wavering both the requirement for prior studies and the execution of the contract in writing.

  • Ongoing contracts for the provision of services by individuals (e.g. consultants, contractors) will not be suspended or terminated, even if the provision of such services cannot be made remotely or electronically, in which case the contractor will receive its payment and will provide the service once the crisis is overcome.

  • Budget reallocations to ensure the availability of resources for emergency procurement of goods/services needed for the fight against COVID-19 are also authorised. Likewise, if public entities need to free resources to address priorities related with the current crisis, they will be able to revert active public procurement processes as long as no tender or bid has been submitted.

  • Public entities can celebrate agreements with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to make use of the Ministry’s revolving fund to purchase goods needed for the fight against COVID-19 from foreign public entities or private companies.

  • Exports of goods needed for the fight against COVID-19 are restricted and an exemption of tariffs or taxes for imported medical supplies and goods needed for the fight against COVID-19 has been adopted.

Infrastructure

  • Government declared as critical infrastructure services all communication services, including radio, television and post. The provision of these services cannot be suspended because of overdue payments during the mandatory lockdown. Service providers must report every two days the state of the provision of these services to the government.

  • Hospitals will be repurposed to serve as intensive care units (ICU) for COVID-19 patients. The Colombian government has already purchased 2,100 mechanic ventilators to increase current capacity. Other existing infrastructure, such as hotels, hospitals that are currently shut-down and field hospitals will progressively be adapted depending on the demand for additional health facilities.

  • Non-critical patients currently in hospitalisation will be transferred to temporary health facilities to evacuate floors that will be adapted to serve as ICUs. A temporary health facility to host non-critical patients is currently being set up in Bogota’s largest conference centre (CORFERIAS), with a maximum capacity of 1,200 beds.

  • Government is currently working on the procurement of 22 labs for COVID-19 diagnosis.

  • Domestic flights and transit on toll-road infrastructure are restricted until 30 April.

  • Creation of a Logistics and Transports Centre within the Ministry of Transport, to apply and monitor preventative measures in transport infrastructure to stop the spreading of COVID-19 and ensure the supply of goods to all regions across the country.

  • Obligations under transport infrastructure concession agreements related to construction, equity payments to special purpose vehicles and funding of infrastructure projects’ trust funds are suspended from 25 March until 13 April. However, existing transport infrastructures (e.g. airports, sea ports, roads and railways) must continue to be operated normally.

  • The Colombian National Infrastructure Agency (ANI), with support of private concessionaires, installed disinfection kiosks in service areas and tollbooths where vehicles that transport food, medicine and supplies are thoroughly cleaned before accessing/exiting main cities across the Colombian territory. Furthermore, tolls are not currently being charged to these vehicles that transport freight.

Economic reference

The government will anticipate resources allocated to public hospitals and health facilities for the 2020 fiscal year which will be disbursed throughout April and May, for an amount equal to USD 525,000,000.

Out of the box initiative/solution

In order to ensure the supply of good and services, and making reference to existing legal dispositions35, the national public procurement agency Colombia Compra Eficiente issued a concept clarifying that public entities are authorised to make use of electronic means of communication (e.g. Skype, Facetime, Whatsapp, Teams) to hold public audiences, to issue and notify administrative decisions and overall to continue public procurement processes as usual. Postponement of public audiences in active procurement processes will only be allowed if it is unfeasible to make use of electronic means of communication.

Colombia Compra Eficiente has also created an online store to centralise the purchase of items required to address the COVID-19 emergency. Public entities can purchase online using the COVID-19 demand aggregation tool (instrumento de agregación de demanda), which provides catalogues with cleaning products, personal protective equipment, medical equipment, IT services and items required to expand the provision of health services. Additionally, Colombia Compra Eficiente released a document with transparency guidelines with the best practices in public procurement to be applied in the purchasing during the attention of the emergency. These guidelines include the requirement to use the word “COVID-19” in the object of any contract, in order to facilitate social control and monitoring36.

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Country Factsheet: Costa Rica

Introduction

The Government of Costa Rica declared a State of Emergency (Estado de Emergencia declarado mediante Decreto Ejecutivo N° 42227-MP-S) on March 16. Before its declaration, the Executive Decree 42221-S of 10 March 2020 already announced some measures such as the suspension of mass public events and public meeting centres. Directive 073-S- MTSS of 9 March 2020 required teleworking at government offices. The State of Emergency requires the closure of schools, and only local citizens and foreign residents are allowed to enter the country. On 23 March, the Ministry of Health announced new preventive measures: the closure of beaches and temples, restriction of vehicle circulation in the main cities of the country from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. (on March 27, extended from 8 p.m. until 5 a.m. during weekends). The financial penalties equivalent to 22 000 Costa Rican Colon (about USD 40) will be applied in case of the violation. In addition, foreign residents will lose their resident status if they leave the country. On 1 April, the government introduced a fine system ranging from level 1 (CRC 450 200, USD 800) up to level 5 base salaries (CRC 2 251 000, USD 4 000) if a person with a suspected or diagnosed case of COVID-19 fails to comply with the social isolation requirement. The penalty of vehicle restrictions was extended to a fine of CRC 107,000 (USD185), and a loss of six points on their license. On 27 April, President Carlos Alvarado and the Health Minister announced that Costa Rica would begin easing some coronavirus measures starting on 1 May. Facilities such as theatres and gyms that have been closed since 18 March will be allowed to reopen, although some significant restrictions, including a ban on tourists arriving into the country, will continue. The government will increase or further roll back social distancing measures every 15 days after evaluating the spread of the coronavirus. As of 27 April, the country reported 11 consecutive days with decreasing COVID-19 positive cases. On 11 May, the Government announced new measures for a gradual reactivation of economic and social activities that will be effective from 16 May to 31 May. (See the Reference for the link to the details.)

Immediate public investment policy responses

Procurement

Special rules for emergency contracting of critical items

In Costa Rica, the main legal framework governing public procurement activity is Public Procurement Law (Law No. 7494, Ley de Contratación Administrativa- LCA) and its Regulation (Reglamento de la Ley de Contratación Administrativa - RLCA, Executive Decree No. 33411). Article 80 of the LCA and 140 of the RLCA foresee direct awarding in urgent situations. The use of this provision requires an authorisation from the Controller General of the Republic (Contraloría General de la República: CGR). Public entities need to provide the CGR with all relevant information in order to request for its approval. Article 5 of the State of Emergency declared on 16 March confirms that public entities are authorised to apply this provision of urgency procurement.

Special institutional arrangements for purchasing goods/services needed for the fight against COVID-19 or for co-ordinating the purchases

Centralisation

Currently, the only centralisation mechanism regulated in Costa Rica is the framework agreement. However, as of May, framework agreements have not been used in order to procure goods and services to respond to the emergency.

Special monitoring rules

CGR established a transparency portal of public funds in response to the emergency of COVID-19. It also publishes the information of public procurement (item, amount, public entity etc.) related to direct award procedures under emergency approved by the CGR in accordance with Article 80 of the LCA. As of May 14, 2020, 30 authorisation requests have been submitted, of which 26 have been authorised and 4 have been rejected. The authorisations granted by the CGR reach the amount of USD 47,023,189.70 and cover different objects, such as medical equipment, food, professional services, supplies, etc. (See the Reference for the link of Transparency Portal to search more detailed information.)

Support provided by the respective ministry or public procurement central body to the contracting authorities on how to handle the current situation in terms of contracting, in terms of managing the current contracts, etc.

On 17 March, the General Directorate of Asset Management and Public Procurement (La Dirección General de Administración de Bienes y Contratación Administrativa: DGABCA) of the Ministry of Finance (Ministerio de Hacienda), in charge of managing the public procurement system for the central government, announced its decree DIRECTRIZ DGABCA-0003-2020 in order to clarify and facilitate procurement procedures in an emergency:

  • Public entities are authorised to apply urgency procurement in accordance with the State of Emergency. However, it should be applied only to the procurement for the purpose of emergency care. Procurement procedures not directly related to emergency care shall be subject to the ordinary competitive procurement procedures.

  • Public entities are still required to use SICOP, e-procurement system of Costa Rica, under the current state of emergency. (The current emergency does not justify the exceptions stipulated in Article 9 of Executive Decree N°41438-H that allow contracting authorities to avoid using SICOP.)

  • DGABCA provides, as the annex of this decree, the list of “Codes of Products”. This list contains the codes related to critical products such as alcohol products, disinfectant / cleaners, towels, liquid soap and masks, and intends to make it easier and quicker for contracting authorities to search for the products when they procure these goods through the SICOP.

Infrastructure:

  • On 31 March, the government announced the opening of CEACO (Centro Especializado de Atención de Pacientes con COVID-19), a centre specialised in treating COVID-19 patients by transforming the National Centre of Rehabilitation (Centro Nacional de Rehabilitación: CENARE) after two-week intensive rehabilitation works. CEACO is equipped with better medical equipment and 1 350 medical staff (working 24 hours in three shifts), and reinforces the medical services provided by the Costa Rican Social Security Fund (Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social: CCSS) by allowing up to 88 COVID-19 patients in intermediate or continuing care units to be treated.

  • Los Chiles Hospital installed a mobile hospital, where the emergency services will be provided for the care of patients with other pathologies, in order to reconvert its fixed physical infrastructure for the hospitalisation of COVID-19 patients. The work includes the establishment of partition walls, glass doors in the doctors’ offices (a mandatory measure to increase security for patients and officials) and the reallocation of spaces so that at least 10 beds and 2 cribs can be located for patients affected by COVID-19, by maintaining a distance of 1.80 meters among each of them.

Economic reference

According to the transparency portal of the CGR, as of 20 April, CRC 25,770,600,000 (USD 45 million) has been approved by the CGR in order to procure critical items under direct award. For example, CCSS has invested more than USD 16 million, which includes the transformation of CENARE as well as the purchase of equipment such as pulmonary ventilators, transportable X-rays, oxygenation equipment, special stretchers, diffusion pumps, among others.

Out of the box initiative/solution

  • National Center for High Technology (el Centro Nacional de Alta Tecnología: CeNAT-Conare) has been working to develop their own diagnostic test of COVID-19 which could be alternative to the reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR).

  • Clodomiro Picado Institute of the University of Costa Rica uses horses to generate anti-venom from snakebites. Horses receive an injection of non-infective coronavirus proteins, which do not affect the animals’ health. The blood plasma drawn in three months will go through a purifying machine to become a serum to fight COVID-19. In addition to this process, the Clodomiro Picado Institute is in the process of purifying the blood plasma of patients recovered from the virus to generate a cure for the disease.

  • Scientists of the Technological Institute of Costa Rica (TEC) developed the assisted respirator project for COVID-19 patients. It has officially passed the clinical tests and ready for the next stage: animal and human testing. It is a prototype of an inexpensive and rapidly manufactured respirator, designed by researchers from the School of Materials Science and Engineering.

  • In order to identify the vulnerable groups of suppliers, the Ministry of Economy, Industry, and Commerce published a diagnostic report “Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemics on the SMEs in Costa Rica.” This analysis will be used to design the strategies to support SMEs through public procurement.

References / useful resources

http://reventazon.meic.go.cr/informacion/estudios/2020/pyme/covid19.pdf

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Country Factsheet: Estonia

Introduction

On March 12, the Government of Estonia established the Government Emergency Committee, headed by the prime minister, and declared an emergency situation for the first time since regaining independence in 1991. It aims at preventing the spread of COVID-19 and addressing economic problems. It will remain effective until May 1 unless announced otherwise by the government. The following special measures are put into force during the emergency situation:

  • All public gatherings are prohibited

  • Distance learning is introduced at schools

  • Sanitary and passport controls are implemented at border points

  • All the cultural institutions such as museums and cinemas are closed

  • All the public events such as concerts, conferences, and sports are prohibited

  • All entertainment venues such as bowling and snooker allies, hookah cafes are closed. Bars and cafes have to be closed by 22 o’clock

  • In all public spaces people must follow the 2+2 rule, meaning people can be either alone or with one more person, and must keep at least 2 metres of distance with other people

  • All shops in shopping malls are closed, except for grocery stores, pharmacies, points of sale for telecommunications companies, bank offices, parcel machines and shops selling or renting aids and medical devices. Eateries can only sell take-away food. In order to comply with the 2+2 rule, the store or service venue must calculate the number of customers that can fit in the store or service venue at one time. Hand disinfectant must be available at all entrances and exits.

  • Foreign citizens from a risk area or with virus symptoms are requested to postpone the travel plan to Estonia

On 19 March, the government launched a EUR 2-billion support programme, which represents nearly 7% of GDP, to mitigate the situation for workers and businesses in Estonia.

Immediate public investment policy responses

Procurement

Special rules for emergency contracting of critical items

Ministry of Finance announced guidelines on public procurement in relation to the emergency situation and its consequences (last update on 13 April) in order to explain the use of negotiated procedure without prior publication, and the special consideration on the grounds for exclusion of tenderers.

Procurement procedures under the emergency situation

Article 49-(1)-3) of the Public Procurement Acts (PPA) allows contracting authorities to use a negotiated procedure without prior publication for reasons of extreme urgency brought about by unforeseeable events. The current emergency situation provides grounds for using negotiated tendering procedure without prior publication of a tender notice. In addition, only one tenderer may be contacted for negotiations in extremely urgent situations that arise from unforeseeable circumstances beyond the control of the contracting entities. Those situations, for example, include the procurement of protective masks, and disinfection of premises, amongst others. Negotiated procedures do not apply to ‘ordinary’ contracts which do not respond to the emergency situation.

In addition, before applying a negotiated procedure without prior publication, contracting authorities should consider whether they can apply the shortened deadline for submission of tenders in an open procurement procedure, provided for in Article 93 (2) of the PPA. In case the estimated value of the contract exceeds the international threshold or contracting authorities are unable to meet the minimum deadlines for submission of tenders due to urgent circumstances, they can apply shortened submission deadlines: a minimum of 15 days for goods and services and 25 days for public works.

Grounds for exclusion of tenderer

Articles of 72-(7) and 95-(1)-4) of the PPA refer to the grounds for exclusion of tenderer due to criminal acts such as corrupt practice, use of child labour, tax arrears, and overdue social security contributions, amongst others. The guidelines stipulate that contracting authorities are allowed to award a contract to an economic operator without excluding it, even if the economic operator has mandatory grounds for exclusion, where the award of the contract is essential for an overriding public interest and there is no alternative company available. In relation to tax arrears, the contracting authority shall not exclude tenderers from the procurement procedure if they have paid or postponed the tax payment by the due date (usually up to 3 days of extension or more) with the tax authority (Tax and Customs Board).

Centralisation and special institutional arrangements for purchasing goods/services needed for the fight against COVID-19 or for co-ordinating the purchases

The State Shared Service Centre provides nationwide financial, HR and payroll accounting services, but it is also a central purchasing body for many ministries and their governing areas. Ministry of Finance, the Public Health Board and the Ministry of Social Affairs identified the need for both short-term and long-term non-medical disinfectants and personal protective equipment. Most public contracts designed to cover the short-term needs were concluded through the negotiated procedure without prior publication conducted by the Ministry of Finance in co-operation with the State Shared Service Centre.

Special monitoring rules

Contract award information through a negotiated procedure without prior publication must be published in the Estonian e-procurement system, Public Procurement Register, within 30 days after the conclusion of the procurement contract.

Support provided by the respective ministry or public procurement central body to the contracting authorities on how to handle the current situation in terms of contracting, in terms of managing the current contracts etc.

Ministry of Finance has been updating Guidelines on public procurement in relation to the emergency situation and its consequences (last update on 13th April). The Ministry of Finance also added guidelines concerning the effects of force majeure and the possibility of modifying public contracts due to such events.

In addition to that, the Ministry of Finance has prepared additional information for contracting authorities about verifying the absence of the grounds for exclusion where tax arrears are concerned.

Infrastructure

  • Grocery stores, pharmacies, points of sale for telecommunications companies, bank offices, parcel machines and shops selling or renting aids and medical devices are identified as critical and these services cannot be suspended.

  • A temporary field hospital with 20 intensive care units and up to 40 additional beds have been set up in Kuressaare by the Estonian Defence Forces

Economic reference

The volume of public spending through public procurement for COVID-19 outbreak is at least EUR 47 million.

Out of the box initiative/solution

The Hack the Crisis movement started in Estonia. It has reached over 40 countries and more than 100,000 participants. In mid-March, immediately after the government declared an emergency situation in Estonia, the public and private sector organised a two-day online hackathon. It aims at sharing and developing ideas for urgently needed solutions in the face of the current crisis, as well as to build resilience post-pandemic. Several technological solutions emerged as a result: the map that displays current data about the spread of COVID-19 (https://koroonakaart.ee); the chatbot SUVE, a source of reliable information about the crisis (https://eebot.ee/); the health questionnaire that assess one's risk of infection (https://coronatest.ee), and the platform that helps connect volunteers with medical professional experiences (https://vaab.ee).

As a result of the Hack the Crisis, a new digital solution by MASC (Management of Acute Supply during Crises) will be introduced. It will enable hospitals and public institutions to monitor personal protective equipment stockpiles and demand. The database can be supplemented with a prognosis of supply needs in accordance with the situation.

References / useful resources

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Country Factsheet: Finland

Introduction

Finland declared a state of emergency due to the COVID-19 outbreak. On 8 April 2020, Finland had around 2 500 confirmed cases of COVID-19 infections, i.e. about 45 per 100 000 inhabitants. The government expects just 12 000 hospitalised cases. Most cases were reported in a specific region in South Finland (Uusimaa), which therefore has been closed off.

Immediate public investment policy responses

Finland’s Central Purchasing Body provided a list of suppliers currently engaged in Framework Agreements and Dynamic Purchasing Systems that are able to provide scarce goods and equipment. Most needs have been met by drawing on existing stockpile (see below.)

Overall, no changes to the law have been implemented; the existing room for emergency procurement has been emphasised. Direct awards are increasingly used, especially in the health sector, but not to a disproportionate extend. Tender procedures have been affected to a limited extent, with some contracting authorities cancelling procedures.

Out of the box initiative/solution

Finland largely met needs for medical supplies by opening the respective stock of the National Emergency Supply Agency (NESA). NESA’s role, for the past 400 years, has been to stockpile indispensable goods, ranging from grain to medical equipment. In late March 2020, NESA opened its warehouses for the first time since the Second World War, being able to supply a wide range of materials in urgent need at hospitals. Keeping this stockpile seems to have enabled Finland to avoid shortages of those types of equipment that have been in short supply in most other COVID-19 hotspots, possibly saving lives.

The stockpile is not entirely kept in a NESA’s warehouses. Some suppliers have been mandated by law to keep a certain level of stock of certain products (including medical equipment) in their own warehouses. In addition, goods in NESA’s warehouses are part of the rolling stock maintained by suppliers. During normal periods, suppliers can sell goods located in NESA’s warehouse to exchange older models for new equipment. Three staff from Finland’s Central Purchasing Body work for NESA to ensure continued supply.

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Country Factsheet: France

Introduction

Procurement is a key lever in tackling the health crisis. Furthermore, the epidemic has clear repercussions for the performance of public contracts.

Immediate public investment policy responses

Procurement

Special rules for public sector contracting in times of crisis

Tendering

In France, different measures can be put in place in relation to emergency tendering. For instance, if a specific need is urgent, contracting authorities can reduce the advertisement period of the procurement opportunity in the framework of a competitive process. Contracting authorities can also use procurement procedure without prior advertising or competitive process if the need is not compatible with the reduced advertisement period. These two options should only be made available for the amounts and duration strictly necessary to meet urgent needs. They may be renewed if the “blocking situation” continues.

Special measures have been taken to adapt procurement procedures in light of the COVID-19 health crisis37, notably:

  • Extend the deadline for applicants and offers for a sufficient period of time,

  • Adapt the modalities of procedure in consultation documents following the principle of equal treatment (like the putting in place paperless processes for negotiations etc.)

  • Extend contracts due to expire within the period of the crisis or if the work cannot be fully completed within the timeframe previously agreed, including extending framework agreements beyond their maximum duration, (without going beyond the prolonged crisis period plus the time it would take to re-launch a procurement process).

It is important to stress that all of these measures can only be taken where absolutely necessary in light of the COVID-19 crisis.

Contract management

The COVID-19 pandemic also has clear implications in terms of contract management. The government has implemented specific measures in case of difficulties linked to contract execution during the COVID-19 health crisis38, including:

  • Protecting businesses from contractual sanctions (where it is impossible to execute a right or where it would require excessive additional costs: request for extension of time limits from the contractor or substitution from a third party without charge for the contractor),

  • Reducing liquidity requirements for businesses (increase of advance payments, removal of financial guarantees for advances, maintaining payments to the contractor in case of fixed price contracts).

  • Facilitating reimbursement of damages (compensation to the contractor for expenses implied by the termination of a contract or cancellation of a purchase order following measures taken by administrative authorities in view of the COVID-19 crisis).

Where the execution of a concession is suspended, either stop subsequent payments to the government or allow advance payment, if possible. Reinforce compensation of overspending where the contracted services or works are being executed (even partially), and when the continued execution of the concession will require financing for which provision was not originally made and would constitute an evident excessive cost with regards to the financial situation of the concessionaire. These special measures are used only when necessary for confronting the consequences of the spread of COVID-19.

Furthermore, following French regulations, the termination of contracts in the public interest or because of force majeure is decided on a case-by-case basis.

Special institutional arrangements for purchasing goods/services needed for the fight against COVID-19 or for co-ordinating the purchases

The decree n° 2020-190 of the 31st of March 2020 requires the requisition of stocks of respiratory protection masks (type FFP2 and anti-projection) until May 31, 2020. The state can requisite those masks from any legal person governed by public or private law and companies producing and/or distributing those goods. This decree was complemented by another decree issued on the 20th of March.

France is playing an active role in the EU initiative to “develop a vaccine COVID-19 for the international community” with a contribution of EUR 500 million to the overall budget of EUR7.7 billion.

Two centralised “cells”, one focused on health and the other on all other matters, have been tasked with the co-ordination of the two following parallel actions, which due to the spread of the virus throughout the country, are being actioned at the national level:

  • Identifying sources of masks, PPE and reliable tests, over several months;

  • National co-ordination for the allocation of stock between critical regions and those with fewer cases, on the broadest scale possible including both public (prefecture, Agence regionale de santé) and private (wholesale and Pharmacies) distributers.

Whilst critical medical supplies were urgently negotiated with China, the French government has placed the EU and OECD countries at the forefront of its strategy for the short to medium term: non-health purchases have been structured through competitive frameworks in EU and OECD countries.

The ‘cell’ for innovation SME and crisis (also centralised) led by the DAE and DGE immediately set the goal of sourcing and promoting innovative EU based initiatives to public administrations, whilst assuring value for money including security and continuity of supply for public bodies and businesses, in the context of a post-confinement work environment.

As it is happening across EU countries, ideas in France are beginning to surface about suggestions on how the government could re-localise certain strategic production activities. These ideas would go beyond French borders to take into account wider European partnerships.

The Ministry of the Armed Forces (the Directorate General for Armament and the Innovation Agency for Defence) has launched a call for applications to identify innovative technologies to detect COVID-19. The first contract has been signed with a French SME for the provision of fast tests to detect the virus.

The state has acknowledged the initial situation in this crisis which was marked by a high demand for critical goods. An exceptional provision within public policy allows, under the authority of the ‘national central cell on health’, requisitioning of resources such as deliveries of masks and other items needed throughout the crisis. These measures will only be in place as long as it takes for the pace of distribution to return to normal. Indeed, the aim is to limit potential market distortion – up to abuse of trade position – that could harm access to care for all citizens and personal protection for health-care professionals.

While hospitals and regional hospital groups are under the supervision of the Ministry of Health and thus of the state, establishments providing accommodation for dependent elderly persons (EHPAD) are either private or under the supervision of territorial authorities (collectivités territoriales). Territorial authorities have, therefore, the ability to issue their own contracts to respond to their needs. For the procurement of masks, no co-ordination mechanisms have been established between territorial authorities and with the central government. However, in practice it happens that local prefectures (under the Ministry of Interior) have requisitioned orders form territorial authorities.

For other medical devices and goods, no co-ordination has been put in place. While medical goods and services have been at the centre of the epidemic crisis, other procurement categories have also experienced a significant increase, including IT goods and services.

Infrastructure

Modification of existing infrastructure

  • A refrigerated warehouse at ‘Rungis market’ was converted into a morgue due to the large number of bodies.

  • Some schools have been used as health consulting centres.

  • In Perpignan, hotels have been converted into hospitals for contagious people that are healed.

  • High-speed trains have been converted into ‘medical trains’ to transfer patients from saturated areas (in terms of intensive care bed availability) to less saturated ones. For instance, 36 patients from the Île-de-France were transferred to Brittany.

Delivery of temporary infrastructure

In Mulhouse, a temporary military hospital was erected in a car park. The hospital is fully equipped with 30 intensive care beds and was specially adapted following requirements for treating patients suffering from COVID-19. The set-up required for this sort of hospital is complex and is not usually deployed on national soil.

Economic reference

No consolidated data is available on the total public spending through public procurement for COVID-19 outbreak. However, the below data was collected:

  • Allocation of a budget of EUR 2 billion to fight the pandemic. This budget aims at financing sick leave, the remuneration of caregivers and the procurement of masks.

  • Allocation of an exceptional budget of EUR 4 billion to the public health agency (Santé Publique France) for the procurement of personal protection equipment, drugs and ventilators.

Out of the box initiative/solution

Air Liquide Medical Systems is the only French supplier of ventilators. It has several framework agreements with hospitals as well as the French central purchasing body. Given the current situation, there is an increased need to equip hospitals with ventilators. Air Liquide began by tripling its production, however, the produced quantities could not cover the needs of the French governments. So, a consortium lead by Air Liquide and comprising of four companies has been formed. The other companies are: Schneider Electric (specialist in electronic equipment), Valéo (automotive supplier) and PSA (car manufacturer). The aim of the consortium is to produce 10 000 ventilators in 50 days and the ventilators produced will be sold at cost price.

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Country Factsheet: Germany

Introduction

Germany introduced several measures to tackle the outbreak as well as the expected economic effects. Overall, citizens are instructed to observe social distancing. Outings are possible, but citizens are only allowed to meet one person external to their household at a time (dubbed “Kontaktsperre”, “contact restrictions”). Companies can apply for reduced working hours for their staff (Kurzarbeit, “short-time work”) to be able to maintain staff with reduced pay. Additional financial support and credit guarantees are available from the Federal Government, the German Development Bank KfW and from Governments on Länder level. The contact restrictions are implemented by the Länder, who can add additional measures and have followed different levels of strictness.

Immediate public investment policy responses

Increased centralisation

Public procurement has been increasingly centralised in response to the crisis, and CPBs are now cooperating more closely. Germany’s Federal Ministry of Health pushed for increased centralisation to meet needs for medical equipment. Health procurement is generally conducted in a decentralised way (in line with Germany’s general tendency towards decentralisation). In the past, centralisation of procurement has been met with great reluctance by the German administration on all levels.

The ministry ordered aggregated procurement of equipment needed to tackle the Corona crisis (masks, gowns, sanitiser, etc.) for all doctor’s offices, clinics, etc. in Germany. In doing so, purchases of different items were assigned to three of Germany’s CPBs, Federal Procurement Office (BeschA), Federal Central Customs Authority (GZD), and Federal Office of Bundeswehr Equipment, Information Technology and In-Service Support (BAAINBw). Germany has a total of five CPBs on federal level. The co-ordination, distribution and designation of the purchased items is handled by the Federal Ministry of Health. A co-ordination unit from a procurement perspective exists in the form of the Kaufhaus des Bundes, a co-ordination unit in the Federal Procurement Office (BeschA) of the Federal Ministry of the Interior.

  • The CPB of the Federal Customs Office (Generalzolldirektion) was assigned to handle the procurement processes for masks and gowns in an “open house procedure” via TED. The price was set by the Ministry of Health, with a minimum offer of 25,000 masks per order. Media reported that the problem in securing masks was related to logistics, such as a lack of transport possibilities between Germany and China, where large amounts of masks were produced.39

  • The CPB in the Federal Ministry of the Interior was tasked to procure hand sanitiser.40

  • The CPB of the Federal Armed Forces (BAAINBW) was brought in to track and procure urgent equipment, and reported that it had concluded 67 contracts valued at EUR 334 million within three weeks, together with the BeschA and the Customs Office.41

Procurement law

The Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi, the federal ministry in charge of public procurement law) published a circular on 19th March 202042 that clarified how urgent needs could be met using the existing scope of Germany’s public procurement law above and below the EU thresholds. No new rules were set. Observers in public procurement communities appreciated the clarification that the COVID-19 crisis was indeed justifying emergency procurement as specified in the law.

The circular emphasised that the German Länder had the possibility, where deemed necessary, to suspend specific rules of procurement below the EU thresholds. Indeed, several Länder amended or suspended public procurement rules in line with their competencies. Examples range from circulars with clarifications and interpretations (like those from federal level) in Thuringia, to amendments of regulations to further simplify and speed up procurement procedures below the EU thresholds, for example in Bavaria or Rhineland-Palatinate. Hamburg, among others, also suspended the obligatory use of e-procurement.

Additional guidance for contracting authorities on how to handle non-delivery of works was issued by the Federal Ministry of the Interior.

Economic reference

  • EUR 334 million: central procurement in connection with the COVID-19 response in the first three weeks of the Corona response (26 March 2020)43

  • EUR 50 billion: emergency response funds for SMEs, entrepreneurs, freelancers and farmers44

  • EUR 122,5 billion: costs of overall measures to respond to COVID-1945

References / useful resources

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Country Factsheet: Greece

Introduction

In Greece, the government took drastic measures very quickly. On 10 March, schools closed; next week all public commercial venues were shut down and very soon most retail and businesses. As of 23 March 2020, a full lockdown has been imposed, banning non-necessary moves. At the same time, intensive care beds in public hospitals almost doubled and extra doctors and nurses were hired by fast-track procedures. In the economic sector the government announced emergency measures to protect business and labour, such as suspension of tax and social contribution payments; rent slash by 40 %; subsidy of the lump sum of EUR 800 for all businesses and employees of businesses, the activities of which have been suspended by the state.

Immediate public investment policy responses

Emergency legislation has been introduced, allowing public entities within the health, civil protection and other relevant sectors to directly award supplies, works and services that are needed to tackle the COVID- 19 crisis.

  • In most cases, this emergency legislation provides for a special, emergency direct award procedure according to which the procuring entity shall publish an invitation to its website for 3 days that may be addressed to any relevant and shall award the contract based on the criterion of the lowest price offered (in case of supply, the availability of the volume needed shall be also taken into account).

  • In other cases the emergency regulation provides for the use of the negotiated procedure without prior publication, as prescribed in the EU Directives, setting aside at the same time domestic constraints on the Contracting Authority’s discretion, such as budget authorisation.

  • In this emergency legislation constraints can also be identified: legislation is applied only while the COVID-19 emergency continuous and only for supplies, works and services that are indispensable to tackle the COVID-19 crisis; the term of the contract cannot exceed the period of 2, 3 or maximum 6 months, depending on the subject-matter; all contracts concluded applying the emergency regulation, whose value exceed the threshold of EUR 600,000 shall not be concluded unless audited and found legal by the Court of Auditors.

The Hellenic Single Public Procurement Authority (HSPPA), responsible – inter alia – for monitoring, coordinating, and providing instructions and guidelines to Contracting Authorities on public procurement issues has added a link on its website about COVID-19, containing:

  • information on the COVID-19 emergency legislation;

  • information regarding the document of clarifications sent by DG Grow to the Expert Group on Public Procurement on 18/03/2020;

  • a copy of the EC guidance on using the public procurement framework in the emergency situation related to the COVID-19 (2020/C108I/01) and;

  • HSPPA’s clarifications regarding contracts concluded in the context of measures taken to avoid the COVID-19 virus spread; the document of the above-mentioned clarification has been also sent to all Ministries, Directorate Generals and Decentralised Administrations and other public entities.

Economic reference

Source: online news (skai.gr/news/finance/koronoios-ektakti-xrimatodotisi-70-ekat-eyro-gia-tin-ygeia-ta-metra-gia-tis-epixeiriseis)

  • EUR 15 million invested for health materials;

  • EUR 70 million for hiring extra personnel in the health sector

Important notice: The above data have not been verified using official state sources.

Out of the box initiative/solution

In Greece, the Government asked the private sector to help voluntarily and people responded. There have been a large number of donations of ventilators and other medical supplies, as well as of intensive care units in public hospitals that were created from the scratch by the private sector free of charge. Even private doctors were asked to help voluntarily (e.g. private doctors and nursed, retired doctors, medical students, psychologists, etc.). For that purpose, the Ministry of Health developed an online platform for volunteers to be registered and within a few days, 5.500 volunteers had been registered. Fast track licensing legislation has been also introduced, allowing all cosmetic enterprises to start producing antiseptics. In Greece, due to the radical measures that were taken promptly the public health system has not been stressed yet.

Although not procurement-related, overall, the COVID-19 crisis has resulted in a stronger push towards digitalisation in the Greek public administration and education system. Several services that had not been available online are now possible to be handled via gov.gr, including driver’s licenses and are thus vastly reducing the time needed to respond to requests.

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Country Factsheet: Iceland

Introduction

The total scope of the measures could amount to more than ISK 200 billion, entailing, on the one hand, deferral of paid taxes and other levies and, on the other hand, expenditure increases and tax cuts totalling more than ISK 60 billion. In addition, the Treasury will support the economy with reduced tax revenues and increased expenditures as a result of weaker economic conditions. These broad-based measures complement the Central Bank’s decisions to lower interest rates, minimum reserve requirements, and countercyclical capital buffers. The second response package, which will focus more on social issues, is expected to be introduced at the end of April.

Iceland’s policies in terms of containment and quarantine are not as strict as in some of the neighbouring countries. Anybody coming to the country must stay at home for 14 days. Most companies are closed or partially closed. Swimming pools, gyms are closed, high schools and universities are closed and many people are working from home. Primary schools are not closed, so kids from ages 6-11 are attending, maybe not a full day but close to that. However, teenagers from 12-15 years old are carrying out distance learning. Nevertheless, there are measures in place for the younger ones attending school. Classes are smaller; kids do not play together in the free time etc. There is a ban of congregating together in groups of more than 20. It started with 100 and then was taken down to 20 people. The two meters rule is in place in supermarkets and those stores that are still open.

Immediate public investment policy responses

Procurement

The Central Public Procurement Agency published an announcement on 18th of March 2020.46 This can be considered a guide for public entities in times of emergencies to navigate the law as it is at the moment. The PPL in Iceland is transposed from EU directives hence the legislation is very similar to what can be found in other EU countries. The announcement as follows:

Public Procurement in an Emergency

In an emergency created by epidemics or natural disasters, it may be necessary for public entities to purchase equipment, services and more with such a short notice that it is not possible to enter into a public auction or other competitive procurement processes that has a specific offer deadline according to the law on public procurement. The provisions of force majeure agreements and the conditions for procurement processes that have already been advertised can also be activated. An example is the purchase of hospital equipment when there is an emergency due to COVID-19. In an emergency, the public procurement law permits authorities to act quickly and shorten the means of communication when urgently needed to accelerate procurement. There are several possible ways to do it:

  1. 1. Mini-auctions within framework agreements can take a short time

    If a framework agreement is in place, it may be quick to enter into a mini-auction and in an emergency the purchaser may set very short deadlines for delivery.

  2. 2. Procurement below the reference price limits

    This type of procurements can be conducted with a short notice. This procurement is below the limits of the contractual obligation and not within the framework contract, contracting authorities do not have to follow very formal ways of purchasing (Article 24, PPL).

  3. 3. Fast auctions

    If an urgent need is required for a tender to be auctioned, the buyer may deviate from the deadlines set out in these provisions (Article 58 and 59 of the PPL). However, the time limit for submitting tenders shall not be less than 7 days.

  4. 4. Unforeseen incidents – addition to existing contracts

    A purchaser may conclude an additional agreement with a current contract / framework agreement when a sudden need arises due to unforeseen events (Article 90 PPL). The value of an additional contract shall not exceed one half of the initial contract amount if it was above the European reference amount. If the buyer decides to amend the contract in accordance with the conditions set out in paragraph 1 (b) and (c) of Article 90 of the PPL, it shall publish a public notice of the material that a change has been made to the contract.

  5. 5. Emergency

    Conducting a procurement procedure without public notice is permitted, regardless of whether it is the purchase of a work, product or service, when procurement is absolutely necessary due to urgent emergencies caused by unforeseeable events and cannot be met at the time of the open auction or a competitive tender. The circumstances referred to as urgent emergencies may not be the responsibility of the buyer (Article 39 of the PPL).

Notice of contract

All exceptions to the general rules are interpreted narrowly. The principles for selecting a procurement process are set out in Article 33 of the PPL. Although a contract can be concluded without an advertisement due to the emergency, after the conclusion of contracts above the EEA reference amounts pursuant to Article 84 of the PPL needs to be published with justification for why the exemption clause was used.

Central Procurement Agency assist public entities in assessing whether the above conditions apply to the procurement. Finally, it will be the Appeals Committee and the Court of Justice to assess whether exemptions were justifiably used for emergencies. It is important for buyers to be well acquainted with the provisions of the Act on the remedies used at each time.

Infrastructure

The Ministry of Finance has been preparing guidance for the procurement of the larger infrastructure projects and that is expected to be published soon.

The measures are intended primarily to counteract unemployment and temporary loss of personal income through partial unemployment benefits, access to third-pillar (private) pension savings, deferral of corporate tax payments, and operational loan facilities for companies. When the direct impact of the pandemic has begun to taper off, the authorities will give strong support to the revitalization of the economy with increased public investment intended to promote long-term GDP growth, tax cuts for labour done on-site at various workplaces, and a marketing campaign centring on Iceland as a tourist destination.

When the temporary shock caused by COVID-19 passes, the economy will pick up again, as the Government’s measures are focused on keeping viable companies in operation. Furthermore, the foundations of the economy are strong. In order to enhance resilience, the Government intends to take special measures to support the tourism industry and to bolster public investment, which will help the economy in both the short term and the long term.

The Government has placed strong emphasis on investment and on strengthening societal infrastructure. Plans have now been expanded, with an expedited investment initiative. Special consideration is given to projects that can be expedited and to other profitable projects that can create a variety of jobs at short notice. The investments are in areas such as road construction and maintenance, real estate, and information technology. Furthermore, contributions to various scientific and innovation funds will be increased. The scope of the initiative is ISK 20 billion (ISK 15 bia.) financed by the Treasury and (ISK 5 billion.) public companies.

Currently in preparation is another initiative that will take over in 2021-2023, involving large-scale investment requiring more planning and preparation.

Economic reference

It is difficult to estimate exactly the public spending through public procurement for the COVID-19 outbreak. Certain entities can be expect to purchase more while others, that are for example providing limited services or none, such as universities are purchasing less because of the situation. The investment plan agreed as part of the first rescue package amounted to approximately ISK 18 billion (around EUR 120 million), see breakdown of project categories:

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Type of projects

Amount in euros (million)

Maintenance and improvement of real estate

16

New construction and major improvements

7,5

Transport Infrastructure

41,5

Energy exchange, green solutions and environment

9,3

Other infrastructure projects

12,1

Research, Innovation and Creative Articles

19

Digital Iceland and information technology projects

8,6

Another initiative is under preparation that will take over in 2021-2023, involving large-scale investment requiring more planning and preparation.

Out of the box initiative/solution

The Involvement of deCODE genetics in voluntarily providing their expertise in testing and screening the population has provided valuable information worldwide about the spread of the virus. deCODE’s swift response to this emergency and the insights they have generated will give the rest of the world a stronger scientific foundation for public health decisions.47

Contagion tracing is a community affair: The contact-tracing app Rakning C-19 is an important link in the chain of response to COVID-19. The app helps to analyse individuals’ travel and trace their movements against those of other people when cases of infection or suspected infection arise.48

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Country Factsheet: Ireland

Introduction

The scale of the COVID-19 crisis is such that no nation can successfully tackle it alone. However, responding to COVID-19, Ireland has taken an unprecedented and extraordinary set of actions. Ireland’s national response to COVID-19 is supported by a dedicated governance structure to ensure a public health-led, whole-of-society approach. The National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) for COVID-19 met for the first time on 27 January 2020. Chaired by the Chief Medical Officer, it oversees and provides direction, guidance, support and expert advice on the development and implementation of a strategy to respond to COVID-19 in Ireland. The NPHET is supported by an Expert Advisory Group and a number of subgroups. The NPHET works closely with the HSE National Crisis Management Team which leads and manages the HSE͛s response.

The Government established the Special Cabinet Committee on COVID-19 Response chaired by the Taoiseach on 3 March 2020. The Committee is being supported by a committee of senior officials across all Departments and the Health Service Executive and a dedicated Communications Group which coordinates a whole-of-Government communications response.

Ireland has introduced a number of measures designed to suppress the spread of Coronavirus amongst the population, such containment protocols, social distancing and contact tracing. Details on general measures can be found at https://www.gov.ie/en/publication/a02c5a-what-is-happening/. This information is updated on a regular basis.

Immediate public investment policy responses

Procurement:

National Public Procurement Guidance

The Office of Government Procurement (OGP) has published guidance on public procurement and Covid-19. This is aligned, as far as possible, with the guidance on using the public procurement framework in the emergency situation related to the COVID-19 crisis issued by the European Commission49. This provides advice on the flexibilities afforded under the procurement legislation at times of crises. Where the procurement is unaffected by Covid-19 related issues, contracting authorities should ensure their procurements use competitive processes to ensure value for money, transparency and equal treatment, as detailed in our national public procurement guidelines. There has been a note regarding General Procurement and another aimed at Works and contractual matters associated with Covid-19:

  • Information Note – Covid-19 (Coronavirus) and Public Procurement50

  • Note on procurement and contractual matters associated with the Covid-19 Response Measures 51

OGP, as part of the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, has been addressing the implications of Covid-19 as part of the Government’s overall response. OGP is and will continue to engage with the public sector clients and, in particular, the Health Service Executive to forecast additional demands for key goods. OGP is also working closely with the suppliers on the ongoing frameworks to understand any potential supply chain implications and to manage their impact. This includes framework members that supply critical goods/services, such as, food, cleaning, hygiene supplies and fuel, to assess and advise on any likely supply disruptions. The OGP are also in close and ongoing contact with the HSE to assist in any exceptional procurement requirements that they may have, and have already provided support in this regard.

In order to ensure the continuity of services the OGP advises contracting authorities to assess their supply chains to prepare for any possible impact that Covid-19 related events might have on a given supply.

PPE Aggregation

The OGP has been supporting the national response to Covid-19 through the structures established by Government. The OGP has co-ordinated the aggregate demand of the Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) needs of the non-Health essential public services (the Health Service Executive are coordinating Health Sector requirements). This includes the Defence Forces, Civil Defence, Prison Service, Direct Provision Centres, Local Authorities, Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine and Food, and the Revenue Commissioners. This aggregated demand has been considered by the OGP, the Departments of Taoiseach, Health, Public Expenditure and Reform, Business, Enterprise and Innovation and IDA and has been added to the existing HSE order. The arrangements are now being finalised with the HSE.

Suppliers offering services and donations to Government

The OGP has established a central database of offers and donations. Businesses can use the website to provide details about the goods or services they can supply or donate. The OGP has received offers from businesses both in Ireland and abroad. These include PPE, hand sanitiser, accommodation, conference centre facilities, transport, etc. Offers have been made to the HSE and through IDA/EI/DBEI contacts. All donations and offers are submitted to the HSE in the first instance. It should be noted that where such offers are for consideration that they are examined in context of public procurement rules and procedures.

Import Duties / VAT on Personal Protective Equipment

The Revenue Commissioners confirmed on the 9th April that they had implemented an EU Commission decision that allows goods to combat COVID-19 to be imported, from outside the EU, free of import duties and VAT.

This follows confirmation from the EU Commission that, notwithstanding the provisions of the VAT Directive, Member States may apply flexibility on a temporary basis in relation to the rate of VAT applied to certain supplies specifically connected to the current crisis.

In addition, the zero rate of VAT has been extended to the domestic supply of personal protective equipment, ventilators and oxygen as necessary to combat COVID-19 when supplied to hospitals, nursing homes, GP practices and the like, for use in the delivery of COVID-19 related health care services to their patients. It is envisaged that this concessional treatment will apply up to 31 July 2020, subject to review.

EU Joint Procurement Agreement

Under the Joint Procurement Agreement, EU Member States are in the process of purchasing personal protective equipment, respiratory ventilators and items necessary for coronavirus testing. This coordinated approach agreed by the EU Health Committee gives Member States a strong position when negotiating with the industry on availability and price of medical products.

The Department of Health are represented at this EU group and we are being kept informed of developments in this area. They have indicated issues with long delivery times and the allocation methodology when demand exceeds supply.

North/South Co-operation

The OGP has been working in co-operation with our colleagues in the Construction and Procurement Delivery (CPD) of the Department of Finance, NI in relation to their PPE requirements, including exploring the option of a joint procurement to meet PPE needs. The Departments of Foreign Affairs and Trade and Health have been kept informed of these developments. The Memorandum of Understanding that has been agreed between the Health Departments includes “the Participants will work together in appropriate areas that may arise, such as procurement, to support the response to COVID-19, where it is of mutual benefit to do so.” The OGP is continuing to engage with our Northern colleagues in this regard.

Infrastructure:

The Government is mindful that a sustainable and flexible construction sector is crucial to the delivery of Project Ireland 2040 and the continued contribution of public investment to our economic well-being, and is conscious of the need to proactively manage risks that arise from these necessary impositions.

In this regard, the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform announced (14th April) a suite of measures to manage these risks in the short term, safeguarding the integrity of Project Ireland 2040 and providing for a timely restart to construction, when circumstances and public health measures allow.

The measures include:

  • Detailed consideration by the Project Ireland 2040 Delivery Board and key delivery agencies as to how a phased and orderly restart can best be achieved.

  • Continuation of the planning and preparation of projects in the Project Ireland 2040 pipeline by Departments to facilitate a timely restart and acceleration of certain projects to support construction activity as the sector recovers.

  • Extending the tender deadlines by 6 weeks for all tenders associated with construction and construction services contracts, giving businesses an opportunity to assess the impact of restrictions on their tender.

  • Deferring the award of contracts for construction and construction services contracts unless there are compelling reasons to do so.

  • Ensuring that pre-construction design work continues up to a state of pre-tender readiness so that projects are ready to go to tender once the Public Health Measures are relaxed.

  • Extending ex gratia interim payments to contractors on public works contracts to cover certain non-pay fixed costs associated with site closures from 12 April 2020 until midnight on 4 May 2020 and subject to further extension should the current restrictions continue.

Public investment will continue to play an important role as the economy recovers. Accelerating the delivery of key projects will ensure that construction activity is stimulated, as well as delivering the homes, schools, liveable places and other infrastructure our people will need. The planned continuity in public investment under Project Ireland 2040 will act as an economic stabiliser while continuing to address the well-established demand for public infrastructure.

In addition, the OGP published an information note on procurement and contractual matters associated with the Covid-19 Response Measures. The purpose of this Note52 is to provide guidance to;

  • Contracting Authorities that are required to procure essential professional services or works specifically related to Covid-19 response measures (section 2.1 of this Note); or

  • Contracting Authorities that are currently engaged in a procurement process to engage a works contractor or works-related service providers using one of the CWMF standard form Public Works Contract or standard Conditions of Engagement respectively (section 2.2 of this Note); or

  • Employers/Clients that are currently a party to a CWMF standard form Public Works Contract or standard Conditions of Engagement, or both, in respect of either essential construction services or non-essential construction services (section 3 of this Note).

Out of the box initiative/solution

There are substantial challenges in the global supply chain, huge logistical distance, long order cycles and reports of short / no shipping of promised orders. There has been a ramping up of indigenous capacity across all PPE but there is a need for mapping and identifying the demands and working with industry to address shortages in supply.

In addition, Ireland is participating in the ePitching EU Commission initiative to assess and seek new and innovative ways of tackling complex supply shortages in the area of Health. This is likely to be a longer-term solution that may yield new ways of approach some of the supply problems that many Member States have faced during this crisis. In this regard, Enterprise Ireland and the OGP are advising the Departments of Health and Business, Enterprise and Innovation of the initiative.

The OGP has established a central database of offers and donations. Businesses can use the website to provide details about the goods or services they can supply or donate.

References / useful resources

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Country Factsheet: Italy

Introduction

Italy is one of the countries most severely hit by the COVID-19 pandemic worldwide with the number of infections having surpassed 178,000 and the number of deaths tolling above 23,000 as of mid‑April 2020. Regions in Northern Italy experienced the most severe outbreaks, bringing the local health systems to near-collapse. To counter the emergency, the Italian government introduced a nation-wide lockdown as of 9 March. The measures were progressively sharpened to include the suspension of non‑essential production activities from 23 March. In terms of response to the emergency, the Civil Protection Department (CPD) is in charge of co-ordination the overall crisis response, including the procurement of necessary supplies. It has been active since 31 January with the declaration of the state of emergency.

Immediate public investment policy responses

Procurement

To face the emergency, a series of derogations have been introduced to Public Procurement Code (Legislative Decree No. 50/2016). Such derogations have been adopted in compliance with the EU legislation and in particular with the Communication from the EU Commission ‘Guidance from the European Commission on using the public procurement framework in the emergency situation related to the COVID‑19 crisis (2020/C 108 I/01 adopted on 1st April 2020). The derogations aim at speeding up public procurement procedures for drugs, medical devices and personal protective equipment by the state administration and the CPD, as defined in Ordinance of the Head of the CPD n. 630 of 3 February 2020. For personal protective equipment (PPE) and medical devices, there is a provision to derogate from obligation of prior consultation of economic operators provided for in the case of contracts below the EU thresholds. Earlier, this type of derogation applied only for contracts worth less than EUR 40 000. Similarly, the derogation from the prior consultation of economic operators is permitted when using the negotiated procedure without prior publication dictated by extreme urgency. Derogations allow in-advance payments of suppliers. This should be used with caution with adequate justification, as pointed out in the official communication of the Ministry of Justice. Finally, the verification of requirements for suppliers is also simplified to address the extreme urgency53.

As per decision (ordinanza) of the Civil Protection Department on 2 March, the Italian Central Purchasing Body (CPB), Consip was appointed as “Implementing Body” tasked to support the emergency procurement, with the acquisition of medical equipment, devices and PPE. In the decision (ordinanza) of 4 March 2020, the CPD is supporting the Italian regions with the procurement of supplies needed to face the crisis. The regions maintain the responsibility for supply of health products. CPD assumes co-ordination function as well as the role of acquiring additional necessary supplies. It also exercises monitoring and control of expenditure by implementing bodies.

Furthermore, the government appointed a Special Commissioner for the implementation and co-ordination of measures for containment and response to the Covid-19 emergency on 17 March. This role was taken by the head of Italy’s Agency for Inward Investment and Economic Development (INVITALIA). With respect to procurement, the Special Commissioner is tasked to ensure critical supplies through co-ordination and interaction with market players to promote reconversion of industrial production.

Consip, as the implementing authority (soggetto attuatore) for the COVID-19 emergency, is responsible for the procurement of goods and services needed for the emergency, such as surgical masks, testing kits, protective clothing, etc. It co-operates with the Special Commissioner, the CPD and the Ministry of Health.

As implementing body, Consip has managed several framework agreements and purchases on the e-market place MePA, such as:

  • Order for 3,800 ventilators (out of which, 329 with delivery within 3-7 days and 3.500 with delivery within 15-45 days)

  • Preparation of additional 300 ventilators for distribution in co-operation with the Italian manufacturer Siare Engineering

  • Contracting of over 30 million surgical masks, 7 million gloves and 13 million protective clothing

  • Contracting of 390,000 swabs and 290 testing kits (corresponding to 67,000 tests)54

More details on the emergency tenders managed by Consip can be found at the following link: https://www.consip.it/bandi-di-gara/covid-19.

Consip, in its role of implementing body, purchases only the typology and amount of goods and services indicated by the CPD. The purchases are made either by means of framework agreements or on the MePA. Once the supplier is selected, Consip issues the purchasing order on behalf of the contracting authority (in this case mainly structures of the national health system). The distribution is managed by the CPD and the technical verification is managed by the health structure who will receive the supply and handle – face to face – any necessary confrontation with the supplier.

The Anti-Corruption Authority (ANAC) has a monitoring role for public procurement in Italy. In response to the Covid-19 crisis, it issued Resolution no. 268 of March 19, 2020 detailing a number of administrative simplifications and suspensions of ongoing activities. This includes, among others, the suspension until 15 April 2020 of ongoing supervisory, sanctioning and advisory procedures launched after 23 February. Furthermore, with exception of specific needs, ANAC will not initiate new procedures of sanctioning and supervising until 15 April. It has also extended the deadline for transmission of data to the Public Contract Observatory. Finally, the obligation for the contracting authority to issue the Work Execution Certificate (currently within 30 days from the request of the economic operator) is extended to 90 days 55.

Infrastructure

Regarding critical infrastructure, the Critical Infrastructure Secretariat of the Presidency of the Council of Ministries issued guidance for operators in the field56. The guidance addresses several issues related to the management of critical infrastructure during the pandemic, most notably managing the protection of employees. This involves measures to sanitise structures and provide for personal protection equipment to staff, but also to maximise teleworking via a secure connection. Wherever physical presence of staff is required, operational plans should be devised to minimise physical presence of employees. The organisation of turnover, and reliance on the same teams to avoid cross-contagion. Specific measures are also recommended for control rooms, for which stringent precautions are foreseen. Namely, the guidance calls for voluntary segregation (temporary housing) of separate teams for 14 days to avoid any risk of contagion. Finally, the Critical Infrastructure Secretariat set up a functional mailbox to collect feedback from operators.

Temporary infrastructure is also part of the policy response to Covid-19 emergency. This involves the creation of several camp hospitals. For instance, the Region of Lombardy set up a hospital in Milan’s Exhibition Centre (Fiera Milano) with 53 beds. It was opened on 31 March. Other camp hospitals are being set up in Bergamo, Naples, in the Marche Region and Basilicata Region, among others.

Economic reference

The 17 March Law Decree introduces the following fiscal measures:

  1. 1. EUR 3.2 billion to strengthen the National Health Care System, the Civil Protection Department and law enforcement bodies

  2. 2. EUR 10.3 billion to protect jobs and incomes and strengthen the social safety net (EUR 10.3 billion)

  3. 3. EUR 5.1 billion to support credit supply for businesses and households

  4. 4. EUR 1.6 billion suspension of tax commitments and provision of tax incentives

Furthermore, the Government allocated EUR 4.3 billion from the Solidarity Fund for municipalities that was complemented by an additional EUR 400 million from the Civil Protection Department. These funds are meant to support poorest families especially in the southern regions of the country.

Out of the box initiative/solution

In response to the incentives and calls by the Special Commissioner to re-orient product of Italian industries to fulfil needs for medical equipment, Italian suppliers have responded to face the emergency. Specifically, as per the decision (ordinanza) of the Special Commissioner EUR 50 million of financial incentives are available to businesses for the production of medical equipment and personal protective equipment, as well as re-conversion of existing production facilities.

With respect to surgical masks, the Italian health ministry reports that 25 companies in the fashion sector, from March 30 will produce 200 thousand surgical masks per day, which will increase to 500 thousand from next week and to 700 thousand per day the following one. Furthermore, companies in the personal hygiene sector will produce 150 thousand surgical masks per day which will increase to 400 thousand from next week and to 750 thousand per day the following one 57. Another example of this reconversion comes from the Brianza region, where a family business in the textile field has converted and changed production within three weeks, and is now able to produce 1 million masks per day58.

Regarding ventilators, all deliveries abroad by Siare Engineering, the only Italian manufacturer of lung ventilators, have been interrupted to target the machines only for the Italian market. The CPD identified Siare Engineering in early March as a critical supplier. Production of ventilators needed for the intensive care has been ramped up with the help of 25 technicians sent in from the Ministry of Defence. Furthermore, the company Intersurgical has quickly started production of a double ventilator in co-operation with Siare. Other companies have increased production to support ICU and equipment for camp hospitals. 59

In terms of logistics, PPE contracted by Consip is delivered by suppliers directly to the the Civil Protection operations center in Rome, as per request of the Special Commissioner. Other deliveries of critical supplies have been finalised thanks to the collaboration of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Guardia di Finanza (Italian Financial Police) and the Customs Agency.

References / useful resources

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Country Factsheet: Japan

Introduction

Japan is one of the first countries in the world that have been affected by COVID-19, when the WHO confirmed the first positive case on 16 January 2020. On 30 January, the Prime Minister Abe announced the establishment of the "Novel Coronavirus Response Headquarters," which consist of high-ranking bureaucrats from the Ministries of Japan to coordinate government response to the COVID-19 outbreak. The Government of Japan announced the Second Novel Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) Emergency Response Package on 10 March 2020, built upon its First Package on 13 February. In this second package, the government will exert every effort to prevent the spread of infection and address the immediate issues appropriately (fiscal measures: approximately 430 billion yen, USD 4 billion; financial measures: 1.6 trillion yen total, USD 14.7 billion). It consists of the following four pillars:

  • Preventing COVID-19 from spreading and developing medical treatment structures (including the supply of masks)

  • Responses for issues arising from temporary school closures

  • Responses for shrinking business activities and employment

  • Emergency measures that adapt to situational changes (including temporary measures related to administrative procedures and public procurement)

The government of Japan declared the State of Emergency to seven prefectures (Tokyo, Kanagawa, Saitama, Chiba, Osaka, Hyogo, and Fukuoka) to strongly urge citizens to refrain from going out for non-essential reasons. The state of emergency will remain in force until 6 May, and aims at reducing person-to-person daily contact by at least 70 percent, or preferably 80 percent, to allow the state of emergency to be lifted as currently scheduled. On April 16, the government decided to expand the state of emergency nationwide.

Immediate public investment policy responses

Procurement

The government decided to make flexible responses in administration procedures, public procurement, and other processes, in the Second Novel Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) Emergency Response Package, in order to prevent the spread of infections. These flexible measures are applied to both of central and local governments, and include the followings:

  • Modification of delivery time and contract amount as well as quick disbursement / payment procedures to contractors

  • Revision of the reference price for upcoming tenders

  • Carry-overs of the budgets for the next fiscal year

In Japan, the Public Accounting Act, which governs the principles of contracts of the central government, refers to the application of direct contracting under urgent circumstances, in Article 29-3 (4) of the Chapter IV Contracts. Article of 167-2-1(5) of the Local Autonomy Act, which governs the principles of contracts of the local government, also foresees the direct awarding under urgent circumstances.

The Second Novel Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) Emergency Response Package does not mention whether direct award under this pandemic situation could be also applicable or not. However, the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications issued Measures to be taken for public procurement by local governments in response to Covid-19 on 3 March 2020. This official communication clearly confirms that urgent circumstances foreseen in Article of 167-2-1(5) of the Local Autonomy Act are applied to the current pandemic situation of COVID-19.

Support provided by the respective ministry or public procurement central body to the contracting authorities on how to handle the current situation in terms of contracting, in terms of managing the current contracts etc.

As already mentioned, the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications issued Measures to be taken for public procurement by local governments in response to Covid-19 on 3 March 2020.

Infrastructure

The government has been leasing hotels to accommodate patients with mild symptoms of COVID-19 including a hotel in Kanagawa prefecture that has 2 311 rooms.

Economic reference

There is no comprehensive data available. However, the second package on 10 March includes the budget 18.6 billion yen (USD 173 million) in order to take comprehensive mask-related measures on both demand and supply sides including the procurement of masks (see next section for the details).

Out of the box initiative/solution

Subsidy system to support the investments in reinforcing manufacturing lines of masks

The First Novel Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) Emergency Response Package included the support to mask manufacturers for increasing production in order to ensure that 600 million masks are available every month. The Second package (10 March) includes the following measures by utilising the budget 18.6 billion yen (USD 173 million).

  • Prohibit resale of masks in order to prevent purchases of masks for reselling them at high prices online, and through other means.

  • Procure 20 million fabric masks at once by the government and swiftly distribute them to nursing homes and other facilities

  • Procure 15 million surgical masks at once by the government and distribute them to medical institutions in need with priority

  • Provide further support to mask manufacturers for increasing productivity

The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) decided to provide subsidies to the manufacturers that agreed to make capital investments to increase the supply of masks on 21 February 2020, in order to provide further support to mask manufacturers for increasing production. The subsidies ratio is set at 3/4 for SMEs and 2/3 large enterprises with the maximum subsidy being 30 million yen (USD 279 300) per manufacturing line. As of 25 March, ten Japanese manufacturers were admitted to this subsidy program. The total additional supply of these ten manufacturers is estimated at 45 million masks per month.

References / useful resources

The Second Novel Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) Emergency Response Package (Key Points):

https://japan.kantei.go.jp/ongoingtopics/_00015.html

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Country Factsheet: Korea

Updated 12 May 2020

Introduction

Since the first confirmed case in the Republic of Korea on 20 January 2020, the country has adopted various measures under the strong leadership of the government – including widespread testing, dissemination of guidelines for infection prevention, etc. – to contain the spread of the virus without a national lockdown. As of 7 May, Korea has carried out 649 388 tests among which 1.7% has resulted positive, and out of the 10 810 positive cases, Korea has recorded 256 deaths (2.4%).

On 22 March 2020, the government of Korea launched a high-intensity social distancing campaign that was extended once until 19 April. Then, the government lifted certain restrictions while continuing social distancing campaign until 5 May. As Korea managed to flatten the curve on Covid-19, the government loosened social distancing guidelines and started a new phase of “everyday life quarantine” or distancing in daily life and practise infectious disease prevention rules on a regular basis, as of 6 May.

Immediate public investment policy responses

Since 30 January, the Public Procurement Service of Korea (PPS) has been applying expedited and simplified procedures – such as emergency tenders, direct contracting – for procurement of key products and services for the fight against the Covid-19. In particular, for those goods and services available on KONEPS (Korea On-line e-Procurement System) on-line shopping mall, delivery processes are further simplified for swift purchase and delivery to contracting authorities.60

PPS focuses especially on ensuring stable supply of the quarantine products such as medical disinfectants, hand sanitiser, and quarantine steriliser in the on-line shopping mall of KONEPS. The delivery of those products increased as compared to the same period of the previous year by 4,292% for medical disinfectants, 336% for quarantine steriliser and 224% for hand sanitiser.

Another important area of PPS activities include supplying IT equipment such as tablets or PCs for online classes for schools.

In order to secure steady and continuous provision of key products for COVID-19 response, the PPS has been engaging closely with contracting authorities and suppliers,61 especially through:

  • Providing contracting preferences to firms located in the Special Disaster Zone for low-value contracts and discharging liabilities of delays or unfulfilled contract due to direct causes of the COVID-19

  • Promoting electronic evaluation for contracting by negotiation with e-ordering system of KONEPS for public organisations

  • Providing assistance and guidance to COVID-19 test kit suppliers to participate in global procurement emergency contracting needs

In line with the government’s measures on supply stabilisation of facemasks through its public provision, the PPS was assigned the role as the main co-ordinator of the national supply of facemasks and of their distribution. It has signed a contract with more than 130 face mask-producing companies in order to secure stable and continuous provision. In particular, the PPS has introduced measures to ease financial pressure and to increase the production capacity of these suppliers, which include

  • Financial support and fast payment to the face mask-producing companies – payment is made as fast as within 4 hours upon receipt of the products

  • Introduction of flexibility on payment to the PPS for companies in charge of distribution of face masks62

  • Providing financial incentives for those produced outside of the working hours – such as weekends and night-times.63 After providing incentives, the productivity on weekends increased by 48% and on 10% on workdays

  • Providing assistance on cross-border procurement of the essential raw materials for face mask production

  • Providing supplementary budget on mask stockpiling and management to support long-term supply and demand after stabilisation of the facemask supply

Economic reference

Approximately EUR 329 million for the public supply of 480 million facemasks64, PPS offered 0.2 to 1 million facemask on a daily basis. As of 5 May, medical facilities, pharmacies and public organisations received 30 million facemasks.

Out of the box initiative/solution

Pre-commercial procurement of innovative product: the PPS has signed a contract of ‘Smart negative pressure module’ which is a portable negative pressure tent to be used as an emergency response which purifies, disinfects, maintains the negative pressure, as well as has the internet-of-things system integrated. It has been designated as a pre-commercial innovative product in 2019, and the PPS is currently testing the product in several specific military hospitals for its potential use in the face of potential emergency needs in the context of the Covid-19. 65

References / useful resources

  • PPS (Public Procurement Service of Korea) website – www.pps.go.kr

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Country Factsheet: Latvia

Introduction

Reacting to the situation related to the outbreak of the COVID-19, the Cabinet of Ministers of Latvia on 12 March 2020 adopted the order No 103 “Regarding Declaration of the Emergency Situation”66 (“the Emergency Order”). On 9 April, the decision was adopted by the Cabinet of Ministers of Latvia to extend the state of emergency until 12 May 2020. During the state of emergency, citizens are allowed to continue with their daily business. The following limitations, however, apply:

  1. 1. Citizens are not allowed to gather in number that exceeds two people. That limitation does not apply to people belonging to one household and persons performing work or service duties;

  2. 2. Citizens must keep at least a two-metre distance from any other citizens at all times. That limitation does not apply to people belonging to one household;

  3. 3. People tested positive for COVID-19 and their household members must follow strict quarantine which may be terminated only after two negative tests for COVID-19;

  4. 4. People returning from abroad or being identified as contact persons for person tested COVID-19 positive must follow at least a two-week self-isolation period and monitor their symptoms, such as their body temperature, during that period;

  5. 5. Overall, citizens are encouraged to work from home as much as possible;

  6. 6. Universities and schools are being closed and only selected classes are held in kindergartens.

All regular international passenger transport services have been cancelled since March 17. Individual services (for instance, so called “repatriation flights”) may only be organised with permission from Minister of Transport.

Immediate public investment policy responses

Procurement

Special rules for emergency contracting of critical items

According to point 4.14 of the Emergency Order, certain public sector bodies (such as State Emergency Medical Service, National Health Service, State Police, State Fire and Rescue Service) directly involved in activities against the outbreak of COVID-19 virus as well as institutions organising social life (such as Social Service providers, Ministry of Education in charge of implementation of distance learning) during the state of emergency are entitled not to apply provisions of the Public Procurement Law (“PPL”) for their purchases. The wording of point 4.14 of the Emergency Order, however, suggests that the right not to apply the PPL is applicable only to activities in direct response to the outbreak of COVID-19 virus, and not to previously planned and budgeted everyday activities. The purchases under emergency situation have to be financed from the state budget contingency funds.

According to the point 4.141, in order to ensure the required solutions for the containment of the spread of the COVID-19 outbreak, for medical treatment and organisation of the relevant measures, the capital companies of state and local governments, the authorities and institutions of local governments shall be allowed, without applying the Public Procurement Law and the Law on the Procurement of Public Service Providers, to acquire goods and services which are necessary for the personnel of local government institutions and social service providers, social service recipients and for accommodation, supervision, catering, hygiene, safety, movement of residents of a local government, for ensuring such persons with personal protective equipment and disinfectants, clothing, underwear and other objects and services.

Latvia’s central public procurement body – Procurement Monitoring Bureau (“PMB”) – has published and regularly updates an explanatory note67 in its website regarding purchases during the state of emergency. The explanatory note:

  1. 1. Re-iterates the possibility for certain public bodies not to apply the PPL provisions as provided in the point 4.14 of the Emergency Order;

  2. 2. Explains that contracting authorities are entitled to apply relevant provisions of the PPL, mainly, the negotiated procedure. According to Article 1 (30) of the PPL, a negotiated procedure is a “procurement procedure whereby contracting authority, without prior publication of a contract notice, contacts suppliers of its choice and holds contractual negotiations with one or several of them”. PMB, however, emphasises that negotiated procedure can be applied only if contracting authorities find themselves in a situation where, due to extreme urgency and reasons of necessity not being attributable to the contracting authority in question, it is not possible to apply procurement procedures involving competition and prior publication of a contract notice.

  3. 3. Gives recommendations and explanations on procurement under emergency situation. Mainly, explanations on tax debts during an emergency, on catering and food products for schools in an emergency situation, on the application of exceptions during an emergency and about the obligation for the publication of information if an exception is used68.

PMB also stresses that contracting authorities must ascertain ad hoc whether procurement rules related to extreme urgency are justifiable in context of the particular situation. In other words, contracting authorities are reminded that even in the state of emergency not every procurement transaction has an emergency character. Purchases not related to extreme urgency must still be procured by open and competitive procurement methods, such as open tender or restricted tender. PMB provides for the following case study examples regarding the application of negotiated procedure:

  1. 1. Reference to extreme urgency is justifiable if hospital needs to procure pharmaceuticals that are immediately necessary for patients. However, justification does not extend to procurement of regular medications;

  2. 2. If, due to a late alignment of the financing arrangements, a contracting authority has not timely announced a tender for design and construction of social care facility, it is not in a position to apply a negotiated procedure. The reason for such a stance is the fact that contracting authority has failed to follow its procurement planning obligations.

  3. 3. Necessity to spend assigned financing before a certain date is not a reason for application of the negotiated procedure.

Special institutional arrangements for purchasing goods/services needed for the fight against COVID-19 or for co-ordinating the purchases

The Emergency Order declares special arrangements for purchasing goods/services for the fight against COVID-19 (Point 4.14.). It also states that responsible ministries shall replenish the State material reserves and shall organise the purchase of additional goods for the implementation of national security and health measures and, if necessary, exceeding the amounts specified in the nomenclature of the State material reserves. The ministries shall perform accounting of additional financial resources necessary for payment for the abovementioned purchases and shall request such resources from the State budget programme "Funds for Unforeseen Events" (Point 4.15. of the Emergency Order).

The Emergency Order defines that the authorities involved in the epidemiological safety measures shall, according to the tasks of their activities, plan the reserves of the personal protective equipment and disinfectant for at least three months, and also shall co-operate according to the algorithm for the acquisition, safety of supplies, storage, and distribution of personal protective equipment and disinfectants (Point 4.54.).

In accordance with the Emergency Order, centralised procurement according to the volume of goods specified in the list of priority needs of the institutions was established.

The National Armed Forces shall ensure the logistic support for the transportation and storage of the acquired goods by delivering them to each recipient according to the amount indicated in the list of priority needs of the authorities (Point 4.54.). In order to fulfill this task, the State Central Reserve Procurement Working Group has been established in the Ministry of Defense, the aim of which is to ensure the establishment of the necessary stock reserve for at least three months of consumption.

In view of the above, all information related to the establishment of the State Central Reserve COVID-19 for containment is published on this website of the Ministry of Defense, incl. market research, description of the required goods and services, information on the progress of procurement, etc. Currently, the primary need is for the medical and personal protective equipment, as well as surface and hand disinfectants.

Centralisation

According to point 4.54 of the Emergency Order,

  • the State Fire and Rescue Service shall maintain the list of priority needs of the authorities;

  • the Ministry of Defense shall co-ordinate the involvement of producers and traders and, if necessary, prepare the mobilisation requests for the supplies of critical raw materials, products, and logistical tools to the critical service providers;

  • the State Centre for Defense Military Sites and Procurement shall, in co-operation with the National Armed Forces, take over the management of the reserves of personal protective equipment and disinfectants that are related to the crisis, including performing a centralised procurement according to the amount of goods indicated in the list of priority needs of the authorities, and also shall ensure the storage of the acquired goods and the write-off following the issuing thereof;

  • the National Armed Forces shall ensure the logistic support for the transportation and storage of the acquired goods by delivering them to each recipient according to the amount indicated in the list of priority needs of the authorities.

Special monitoring rules

Point 4.58 of the Emergency Order declares transparency (obligation of the contracting authority to declare information about the concluded agreements in accordance with point 4.14.). The authority (including a capital company) which has performed a procurement in accordance with Sub-paragraph 4.14 of the Order shall post information on the awarded contracts on its website but, if none, on the website of the respective ministry or local government, indicating at least the following information: the name and registration number of the economic operator, subject-matter of the procurement, and brief information thereon, including the scope and the contract price. Information on the current week shall be published by the Wednesday of the following week, whereas information for the period from 12 March to 14 April 2020 shall be published by 24 April 2020. On 21 April 2020, the Cabinet of Ministers adopted amendments, which currently state that the authority (including a capital company) which has performed a procurement in accordance with Sub-paragraph 4.14 or 4.14.1 of this Order shall post information on the awarded contracts also on the website of State Chancellery (www.covid19.gov.lv).

Support provided by the respective ministry or public procurement central body to the contracting authorities on how to handle the current situation in terms of contracting, in terms of managing the current contracts etc.

PMB has also explained that state of emergency can be a reason for amending the public procurement contracts according to Article 61(1) of the PPL. According to that provision “significant changes in public procurement contract are permitted, if contracting authority could not previously foresee them”. However, PMB also urges contracting authorities to diligently consider each case of contractual changes in order not to allow unjustifiable increase of contract prices and shift of economic balance of the contract in favour of private sector contractor.

Infrastructure:

  1. 1. National civil protection mechanism was activated to allocate additional resources such as tents, generators and other equipment for setting up temporary testing places in different cities within the country;

  2. 2. Adjustment of hospitalisation plans and availability of planned procedures at hospital level were performed to allow university hospitals to release hospital beds, especially ICU, for COVID-19 patients;

  3. 3. Adapting office building as temporary hospital for patients not as severely ill, and those who do not the possibility to fulfil quarantine at home.

Economic reference

The volume of public spending through public procurement for COVID-19 outbreak cannot yet be precisely identified, as fight against the outbreak is currently in process.

Out of the box initiative/solution

Many useful ideas and solutions have emerged through Hackforce hackathon, organised by startup accelerator fund “Startup Wise Guys”. They are, for instance:

  • Application for identifying volunteers willing to assist vulnerable groups of people, such as people with disabilities or people in need for food supply during the emergency situation;

  • Designing of “simpler” models for lung ventilators, if the number of existing certified ventilators currently available to hospitals proves not to be enough.

Solution that was declared as a hackathon winner has already been implemented into practice. It is related to elaboration of transparent plastic face shields usable for anyone in contact with other people, for instance, nurses, doctors, workers of groceries, in order to reduce risk of virus transmission. Initially these shields were produced using 3D printing technology. However, due to constantly growing demand the elaboration of shields has been outsourced to different manufacturers in Latvia. Design of the shield can be viewed via following link: https://shield48.eu/lv/sakums/

Demo version of an IT system for collection of information on hospital resources (available hospital beds, staff, PPE) in real time was developed and introduced. Information and different visualisations, including geographical distribution, is available on daily basis.

References / useful resources

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Country Factsheet: Lithuania

Introduction

Due to the spread of coronavirus, the Government of Lithuania from 16 of March, 2020 declared quarantine in Lithuania and established travelling restrictions, closed all educational institutions and shops (with short list of exemptions), and cancelled all public events.

Immediate public investment policy responses

Procurement:

Special rules for emergency

The amendment of the Law on Public Procurement was adopted on 17 March 2020, which simplified the procedural requirements for the negotiated procedure without publication in the cases of extreme urgency. The amendment allowed to waive mandatory exclusion grounds (in cases it is necessary to protect the public interest, including public health and environment), award a contract directly without submitting a written proposal, as well as no longer determined the list of mandatory terms and conditions of the contracts (application of this clause was expanded for cases of extreme urgency).

Special institutional arrangements for purchasing goods/services needed for the fight against COVID-19 or for co-ordinating the purchases

The Ministry of Health is responsible for co-ordinating the purchases for goods/services needed for the fight against COVID-19. Special IT tools were created to manage the needs for supplies and services of health sector institutions in order to obtain the actual data for the procurement.

Central purchasing body, CPO LT, in the name of the Ministry of Health, is organising the centralised procurement of medical equipment and drugs needed for the fight against COVID-19.

Some administrations of municipalities are actively managing the related acquisitions. Procurements are organised by hospitals and clinics in a decentralised way as well.

A team of experts, led by the experts of the public institution Enterprise Lithuania, was assembled to co-ordinate Lithuanian business support and commercial offers, which helps to find the best solutions offered in the market to meet the needs of medical institutions and pharmacies. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is negotiating with foreign partners the terms of acquisitions via diplomatic channels. The Ministry of Transport and Communications is managing the issues related to the delivery of supplies.

Centralisation

Lithuania participates in the EU initiative of joint public procurement of medical countermeasures.

Special monitoring rules

Public Procurement Office (hereinafter referred to as PPO) has opened the data on COVID-19 related contracts: https://vpt.lrv.lt/sudarytos-sutartys-kovai-su-covid-19 (data on contract parties, type of purchase, the timing of the contract, and the volume of the contract).

In addition, PPO announced a request for contracting authorities to:

  • publish COVID-19 related contracts as soon as possible (usually the term for publishing is 15 days after signing the contract) in order to ensure an accurate reflection of spending in a timely manner;

  • share information with other contracting authorities and PPO in case of receiving supplies that do not comply with the qualitative requirements established in tender documents, in order to prevent the spread of low-quality supplies within the market. This request includes the recommendation to establish the contract clause regarding the return of low-quality supplies and related sanctions for the supplier.

Support provided by the respective ministry or public procurement central body to the contracting authorities on how to handle the current situation in terms of contracting, in terms of managing the current contracts, etc.

PPO has released a number of explanations regarding different aspects of COVID-19 related procurement, the earliest one being released on February 26, 2020. These explanations cover reminder of clauses that allow conducting shorter procedures, ability to use the urgent procurement clause (emphasising the narrow interpretation of it), simpler procedures for procurement below threshold, recommendations for execution and modification of contracts, a reminder of publication of contracts and timely presentation of procedural reports.

In addition to that, PPO keeps contracting authorities informed on communications, guidelines and initiatives in the public procurement field, issued by the European Commission.

Infrastructure

Lithuania is re-organising the existing healthcare infrastructure to meet the needs of hospitalisation, also considers such options as turning other infrastructure (e.g. event arenas and exhibition centres) into temporary hospitals, if necessary.

Economic reference

According to the open data on COVID-19 related contracts, the volume of public spending through public procurement for COVID-19 outbreak for April 14th is almost 67 million EUR (the volume is growing with increasing numbers of published contracts), and biggest part of this sum being spent on personal protective equipment.

Public investment in infrastructure is minor (e.g. some repair work for the premises quarantining the ill) and does not reflect in the open data graphics.

Out of the box initiative/solution

The Agency for Science, Innovation and Technology (MITA) announced a competition for innovative ideas to fight against coronavirus in March and has already received 121 ideas from Lithuanian companies and citizens. Some of the examples are:

  • Disinfection robot developed by Rubedo sistemos. It disinfects by steam, reaches 99.99 per cent effectiveness in killing viruses, and can be used for various surfaces and even for food disinfection;

  • Non-invasive system for monitoring the oxygen level in a patients’ body, developed by the start-up "Kumulatis". Such a system would be useful for doctors when deciding whether lung ventilation should be applied.

A number of offered products are at the prototype stage where they can reach the market within a couple of months, especially in terms of medical counter-measures.

In addition, many companies in Lithuania have re-organised their activities to meet the demand in the market. For example, after the Ministry of Health authorised 14 companies to produce disinfectant, the needs of the market were met in a couple of weeks. Some other companies, which used to produce outerwear were awarded contracts for sewing of medical counter-measures, such as aprons and gowns. Also, some unusual partnerships have emerged, e.g. company Technogaja teamed up with a designer, Robert Kalinkin to sew protective masks using high-quality materials for air filtering (widely used for air ventilation systems in hospitals and labs), School of Robotics (entity for informal education of kids) gathered a team of volunteers who own 3D printers and started making protective face shields (even libraries were involved), which kick-started similar initiatives in many other companies.

References / useful resources

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Country Factsheet: Luxembourg

Introduction

Luxembourg reported above 3,500 confirmed COVID-19 cases as of mid-April 2020. The government declared a 3-month long state of emergency on the national territory on 17 March. It also introduced general confinement rules as of 21 March 2020, banishing gatherings and requiring citizens to stay indoors except for work and essential activities. Schools, bars, restaurants and retail shops have been closed. Construction sites are also closed until further notice, with the exception of those related to health and critical infrastructure.

A ‘pandemic’ inter‑ministerial crisis unit convened under the Prime Minister, the Minister of Health, the High Commissioner for National Protection, and other concerned ministries to review decisions by the government council69. On 15 April, the Government Council announced its strategy for de-confinement, which foresees the re-opening of construction sites as of 20 April. The de-confinement strategy also makes the use of facial masks mandatory70.

Immediate public investment policy responses

Procurement

With respect to public procurement rules, the Luxembourgish parliament clarified the suspension of appeals and certain deadlines for the period of the state of emergency, as defined in the Regulation of 8 April. Appeals are generally suspended as part of a generalised suspension of deadlines in jurisdictional matters as per Regulation of 25 March. However, the suspension of appeals against government contracts and concession does not apply the pre-contractual stage and at the conclusion of a procedure (i.e. filing an appeal against an award decision). Furthermore, the regulation suspends the 1-month time period for notification of a contract amendment and the 15-day period to notify cancellations related to irregularities or excessive variations in price are suspended. The suspension applies to periods of notice and amendment in the tender specifications and in other contractual document71.

To better address the needs for medical equipment, Luxembourg authorities also introduced a logistics unit headed by the Ministry of Health, which is tasked with the collection of needs related to the pandemic, the analysis and prioritisation of distribution, as well as the distribution to users. An additional team is dedicated to procurement. The unit is supported by the Luxembourgish Army72. The Army has also set up a ‘drive-in’ distribution site for masks dedicated to businesses in the construction sector to allow for reopening of the industry after the 20 April73.

Local administrations are also involved in the distribution of face mask to the wider population, since the generalised obligation of wearing masks has been announced. Municipalities are co-ordinating with the Ministry of the Interior for this task74. Media reports that Luxembourg authorities dispose of a stockpile of facial masks of about 6-7 million masks75.

Infrastructure

NATO is supporting Luxembourg by increasing hospital capacity through the set-up of a field hospital with 200 additional beds dedicated to the treatment of COVID-19 patients. The NATO Support and Procurement Agency worked closely with the Luxembourgish Army to complete the field hospital tents, which were mobilised within 24 hours76.

Economic reference

Parliament approved a fiscal package, which was estimated on 25 March to be worth EUR 8.8 billion (or 14.2% of GDP). Expenditure measures amount to EUR 1.75 billion (or 2.8% of GDP), while liquidity support through the deferral of tax payments and social security contributions, as well as guarantee schemes for eligible business and self-employed amount to EUR 7.05 billion (11.3 % of GDP). Furthermore, as of 25 March, expenditures in the context of health and crisis management, notably for the procurement of medical equipment and infrastructure, amounted to up to EUR 150 million77.

Out of the box initiative/solution

An online platform was set up by the national innovation agency, Luxinnovation to facilitate the interaction between buyers and Luxembourgish suppliers of personal protective equipment (PPE). The platform aims to collect information about the production and supply of the following items: surgical masks and FFP2-type masks, non-certified masks, visors, plastic protective screens, aprons and disinfectants78. Investment aid is available for businesses producing goods relevant to combat COVID-1979. Media report the reorientation of production of certain industries. For instance, some liquor producers are now producing disinfectants, while other producers are making face masks or other types of PPE. 3D printers have been used to make over 11,000 face shields80.

Luxembourg has been responding to the COVID-19 pandemic through the adaptation of existing infrastructure. Namely, it set up four regional centres (“Centres de soins avancés”) to identify COVID-19 patients and treat patients with mild symptoms81. These regional centres re-purpose existing infrastructure, such as the exposition centre LuxExpo and the concert venue Rockhal. The temporary infrastructure has been put in place by the Luxembourgish Army.

References / useful resources

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Country Factsheet: Netherlands

Introduction

The Netherlands have closed most public places and urge most citizens to stay at home as much as possible until end of May; schools are closed until early May. Larger public events are cancelled until September; to date, citizens can gather in groups of maximum two persons and have to respect the minimum distance of 1.5 metres.

Measures to counteract the economic effects include support for businesses and self-employed, aiming at covering salaries, defer tax payments and facilitating credit.

Immediate public investment policy responses

Contracting authorities were encouraged to increase the time to submit bids for tenders and otherwise continue procuring as before as much as possible.82 Public institutions committed to continuing their work as much as possible, such as public works.

The Dutch procurement advisory centre PIANOo completed a dossier with frequently asked questions related to purchasing during the COVID-19 outbreak on its website. This dossier includes instructions for using special procedures to facilitate emergency procurement; information on how to deal with ongoing tenders as well as contracts.

Analysis by PIANOo confirms that public procurement (in TED) continues broadly as usual.83 However, the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water plans to advance infrastructural works in order to ensure continuity in this sector.84

Economic reference

To date, no data is available.

Out of the box initiative/solution

Market parties are working on protocols that, if found to be adequate, can form the basis of a government decision to re-open certain sectors. One such protocol has already been successful in the construction sector. The goal of these protocols is to shape a “one and a half meter economy”.85

The Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport is procuring the development of a Corona-app that is intended to support the fight against the virus. Part of the procurement procedure was a so-called app-athon: seven potential apps were being tested over one weekend.86 (Unfortunately, the app-athon has not yet resulted in an adequate app).

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Country Factsheet: New Zealand

Introduction

New Zealand is in a four-week nationwide lockdown with the goal of eliminating COVID-19. Public procurement has an important role to play in ensuring that government has the goods and services it needs to address immediate COVID-19-related issues, and that money continues to flow through the economy and maintaining healthy supply markets over the medium and long term.

Immediate public investment policy responses

Key areas of procurement response at this stage include:

  • Developing advice and guidance on emergency procurement to support agencies with rapid responses to urgent procurement needs.

  • Providing advice and guidance to agencies, suppliers and other stakeholders on sourcing and contract management issues, for example options to consider if a contract has come to term, how to manage non-urgent procurement activities, and encouraging agencies to show leniency in contract management for example, if a supplier is unable to deliver due to the lockdown.

  • Confirming requirements on government agencies to pay invoices promptly to improve cash flow and support business sustainability.

  • Embedding procurement expertise in COVID-19 response teams to:

    • manage the supply of key health materials, such as personal protective equipment, sanitiser etc. on behalf of government and essential workforces. Taking a government wide approach ensures that supply is targeted to reach the right areas of need.

    • ensure the efficient movement of essential products into and around New Zealand so that organisations do not fail during the lockdown period.

    • support the redeployment of non-essential public sector workforce to emergency response activities, such as call centres.

  • Key areas of response regarding infrastructure at this stage include:

  • Initiating the development of a future-focussed plan for using procurement to support economic recovery, for example injecting funds into construction and infrastructure projects.

  • Developing guidance for construction projects that will help agencies form consistent commercial positions and support the construction and infrastructure sector.

Out of the box initiative/solution

In September 2019, central government agencies were set a target to pay 95 per cent of domestic invoices within 10 business days. This target was due to take effect from June 2020. However, with many businesses suffering significant hardship resulting from the COVID-19 virus, the Prime Minister announced the introduction of the 10-day payment processing target with immediate effect (March 2020). Contracting authorities have also been encouraged to consider making payments earlier and/or more frequently to support suppliers experiencing acute cash flow issues.

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Country Factsheet: Norway

Introduction

On 12 March and in the following days, the Government took several measures to counter the spread of Covid-19 virus, including:

  • Closing kindergartens, schools, universities etc.

  • Closing certain health services like gyms and one-to-one services like hairdressers.

  • Public office workers other than those in essential services were obliged to work from home.

  • Restrictions on public gatherings were introduced.

  • All cultural events were cancelled.

  • Most restaurants, cafes, hotels and bars closed.

  • Regulations on quarantine after travelling, advice against unnecessary travelling.

  • Ban on staying overnight in cabins in other than domicile municipalities.

  • Immediate measures to avoid unnecessary layoffs and bankruptcies in viable companies from the economic shock of COVID-19.

Interim Act (the Corona Act) on powers to adopt regulations to counter consequences of Covid-19, entry into force on 27 March, ending after one month on 27 April, to be used only if ordinary Parliament procedure insufficient.87 Several regulations88 were adopted.

The Government introduced:

  • guarantee and loan programmes improving liquidity for Norwegian companies, compensation scheme for culture, voluntary sector and sport.

  • changes to the rules for temporary layoffs and unemployment benefits.

  • economic measures securing income for workers and liquidity for companies to avoid mass dismissals and bankruptcies.

Immediate public investment policy responses

No special rules on procurement were introduced for the current COVID-19 situation, but regulation on measures to secure supply of medicine, medical equipment and personal protective equipment was adopted on 15 March 2020, in order to counter corona, inter alia exempting such goods from CE certificate requirements89.

On 20 March 2020, Norway signed the Joint Procurement Agreement90 to procure medical countermeasures (JPA). The aim of the joint procurement mechanism is to secure more equitable access to specific medical countermeasures and an improved security of supply, together with more balanced prices for the participating EU countries. It is legally based on Decision No 1082/2013/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 22 October 2013 on serious cross-border threats to health.

Various guidance documents were issued to support the contracting authorities on how to handle the current situation in terms of contracting, in terms of managing the current contracts:

  • Guidance from the Ministry of Fisheries and Industry on using the public procurement framework in the emergency situation related to the COVID-19 crisis, published on 16 March 2020.

  • Guidance from the Norwegian Digitalisation Agency on using the public procurement framework in the emergency situation related to the COVID-19 crisis, published on 2 April 2020.

Out of the box initiative/solution

A lot of producers have converted production and facilities for production of protective masks, shields, clothing and other equipment, as well as ventilators etc.

References / useful resources

Timeline for news and press releases in Norwegian (detailed) and in English from Norwegian Ministries:

List of regulations adopted to counter corona:

List of essential functions/critical operations (kritiske samfunnsfunksjoner), adopted on 16 March 2020.

Norwegian Institute of Public Health: Collated information and advice about the COVID-19 pandemic, with link to info in English and other languages.

Questions and answers from Norwegian ministries and other agencies, in Norwegian and English.

Ministry of Finance, Questions related to State budget and Covid-19 measures, in Norwegian, not yet English.

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Country Factsheet: Poland

Introduction

In Poland several extraordinary measures have been introduced by the Law of 2 March 2020 and then modified on 31 March 2020, on specific solutions related to the prevention, counteraction and fighting COVID-19, other infectious diseases and crisis situations caused by them. This Law regulates also many other key aspects of the functioning of the State during coronavirus pandemic.

Based on the Act of 5 December 2008 on preventing and combating infections and infectious diseases in humans, the Polish government declared the state of emergency epidemic on 13 March and a week later, on 20 March, the state of epidemic was declared91.

The Government of Poland is tackling COVID-19 crisis based on two special laws:

  • the Act of 2 March 2020 on special solutions related to the prevention, counteraction and eradication of COVID-19, other infectious diseases and crisis situations caused by them,

  • the Act of 31 March 2020 amending the Act on special solutions related to the prevention, prevention and eradication of COVID-19, other infectious diseases and crisis situations caused by them, as well as certain other acts,

as well as on the existing laws addressing various aspects of emergency situations, for example:

  • the Act of 5 December 2008 on preventing and combating infections and infectious diseases in humans

  • the Act of 26 April 2007 on crisis management

Some examples of restrictions applied:

  • International travel banned until May 3

  • No international and internal flights

  • Schools, universities and kindergartens closed

  • Cinemas, theatres closed

  • Hotels, cosmetic and tattoo saloons, massage parlours and hairdressers closed

  • Stores selling household items such as paints and tiles shut at weekends

  • Initially: in shops, maximum 3 customers per cash register allowed; currently (as of 20 April): for stores with a service area of less than 100 m2: 4 people for one cash desk; for stores with a service area of more than 100 m2: 1 person per 15 m2 of this area.

  • Shops must serve only the elderly (65 +) from 10:00 am till 12:00 during the week (not on weekends) and introduce special hygienic measures such as offering rubber gloves and disinfectant to customers.

  • Initially parks, forests, other public green areas closed, as of 20 April they have been re-opened.

  • Social distancing required: distance on streets between persons walking minimum 2 metres, minors (initially below 18 years old; as of 20 April – below 13 years old) not be allowed to walk outside unaccompanied by adults.

  • Ban on gatherings bigger than 2 people etc.

  • Obligation for pedestrians to wear face masks or any other type of mouth and nose cover in offices, shops, places where services are provided, and workplaces.

Immediate public investment policy responses

Public procurement

Special rules for emergency contracting of critical items

A special law on legislative measures related to combating the COVID-19 epidemic was adopted on 2 March 2020 and then modified on 31 March 2020. As regards public procurement, provisions of the Polish Public Procurement Law (PPL) are not applicable to public supplies and services contracts necessary for fighting COVID-19, if there is high probability of fast and uncontrollable spread of the disease or it is required by a need to protect public health. The law introduced also some changes concerning execution of those contracts, which were in force at the moment of declaration of the state of epidemic.

Parties to the public procurement contract covered by the PPL are now obliged to inform, without any delay, each other about impact of circumstances related to occurrence of COVID-19 on correct execution of the contract if such impact occurred or may occur.

The contracting authority after having established that circumstances related to COVID-19 affect or may affect the correct execution of a contract may, in consultation with the economic operator modify the contract, in accordance with relevant provisions of the PPL, and in particular through:

  1. 1. change of time period for execution of the contract or its part or temporary suspension of execution of a contract or its part;

  2. 2. change of the way of performing supplies, services or works;

  3. 3. change of the scope of performance of economic operator and equivalent change of remuneration of the economic operator- provided that increase in remuneration caused by each and every modification does not exceed 50 % of the original contract value.

If the public procurement contract provides for more advantageous for the economic operator terms than those referred above, they are applicable with regard to the contract provided that that circumstances related to occurrence of COVID-19 is not an independent ground for exercising the contractual right of withdrawal.

If the public procurement contract contains provisions on contractual penalties or damages for liability for non-performance or improper performance due to specific circumstances, the party to the contract shall present in the statement referred to above, the impact of the circumstances related to the occurrence of COVID-19 on its proper performance and the impact of modifications of the contract on the appropriateness of determining and seeking these penalties or damages, or their amount.

The epidemic affected also conduct of the procurement review procedures. During the state of epidemic time periods applicable in judicial, administrative and other proceedings do not start to run or are suspended with exception of time periods applied in the public procurement review procedures applied on the basis of the PPL as well as administrative controls conducted by the Public Procurement Office. Accordingly, the PPO proceeds with mandatory ex ante control of compliance of the procurement procedures and complies with relevant time periods.

Appeals against decisions of contracting authorities continue being submitted to the national procurement review body (the National Appeals Chamber, NAC). They are, however, at the moment of writing, not examined because the PPL requires, before decision of NAC is adopted that oral hearing with participation of the parties concerned takes place. Because it is not possible, during the state of epidemics, no rulings of the NAC are adopted. However, the PPO, NAC and the Ministry of Development initiated activities to reorganise the work of NAC in such a way as to reactive adoption of rulings by NAC92 in particular by enabling, on temporary basis, adoption of rulings of NAC only on the basis of documents submitted by the parties to the review procedure. Organisational changes have been prepared but it is also necessary to change relevant legal provisions - a draft of relevant amendment is in pipeline.

Special provisions provide also for exemption of the Social Insurance Institute (ZUS) from application of the PPL with regard to award of contracts related to establishment of existence of right to and payment of layover benefits (pl. swiadczenie postojowe) to entrepreneurs and exemption from payment of social insurance contributions.

Provisions concerning public finance discipline – liability of public officials in case of incorrect application of PPL rules were also liberalised as regards implementation of public contracts (modification of contracts).

Special institutional arrangements for purchasing goods/services needed for the fight against COVID-19 or for co-ordinating the purchases

The Ministry of Health conducts centralised procurement for PPE and medical equipment. Requirements are published on the special portal, the purchasing platform, which enables suppliers to respond and submit their proposals: https://platformazakupowa.pl. WHO recommendations concerning centralisation and monitoring of PPE purchases were also widely disseminated.

Special monitoring rules

Supplies and service contracts related to COVID-19 are exempted from the PPL including its provisions on monitoring conducted by the PPO President. However, it does not exempt control mechanisms applied by other competent institutions, i.e. Supreme Audit Office or regional accounting chambers. As regards contracts covered by the PPO, standard rules and procedures apply, including time periods. The PPO continues with mandatory ex-ante controls concerning procurement procedures co-financed from EU funds as well as with ad-hoc controls.

support provided by the respective ministry or public procurement central body to the contracting authorities on how to handle the current situation in terms of contracting, in terms of managing the current contracts etc.

The central regulatory and monitoring body for public procurement (the Public Procurement Office) regularly publishes on its website information about latest legislative developments as well as legal interpretations concerning new rules such as exemptions from the PPL.

Infrastructure

Special provisions were introduced enabling modifications of concluded procurement contracts due to circumstances related to COVID-19– see above.

Out of the box initiative/solution

HackCrisis– the national Covid-19 hackathon organised by the GovTech Poland

Challenges:

  • isolation– how to support those who due to illness or quarantine must stay at home

  • education– how to use school and university closing times productively

  • facts and data– how to ensure effective fight against disinformation.

http://centrumprasowe.pap.pl/cp/pl/news/info/155831,1,cir-programisci-walcza-z-wirusem-w-cyberprzestrzeni-pod-patronatem-govtech-polska-startuje-hackathon

EUvsVirus– a pan-European Hackathon organised by the European Commission, with the involvement of the GovTech Poland and other public and private Polish institutions

https://euvsvirus.org/?fbclid=IwAR3RGA4yKoLeU76bhVWhwXCJpGyuo1mt-LhxTsUjJpuBWHXDt9TM57z8tog

Challenges in health and life: Protective equipment, Ventilators/respirators, Protection of medical personnel, Real time communication & prevention, Cheap rapid tests, Lack of skilled caregivers, Research, Other (for more see https://euvsvirus.org/challenges/)

ProteGO Safe– an application that will help control and inhibit the spread of coronavirus

https://www.gov.pl/web/cyfryzacja/pokonajmy-razem-koronawirusa--poznaj-protego-safe?fbclid=IwAR3alEjDkTAy2cw_pvKYFcgoMdYUnycyRdP_DsStie4Mv6v8Wz3XpXIuOPw

References / useful resources

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Country Factsheet: Slovak Republic

Introduction

When COVID-19 outbreak struck the European continent, Slovakia found itself in a difficult situation – an exchange of government because of the parliamentary elections held at the end of February 2020. The new Slovak government acted rapidly and adopted strict measures to buy time for healthcare infrastructure to get prepared. Mandatory quarantine and limitations to international travel were imposed as the first response, quickly followed by closure of all schools, as well as non-essential shops and services (exceptions include groceries, pharmacies, drug stores etc.). All these measures were adopted before the first 100 infected were diagnosed. Slovakia was also among the first European countries to promote widespread use of face masks everywhere in the public, which later turned into an obligation set by the government (since March 25th it is mandatory for everyone to cover their noses and mouths everywhere outside their place of residence93).

As of April 20th, there were 1,199 infected and 14 deaths in Slovakia, while 49,428 people were tested. Currently there are 212 patients hospitalised and 8 patients in intensive care.

Immediate public investment policy responses

Procurement

The Public Procurement Office (PPO) published on their website the guidance documents from the European Commission regarding the use of the public procurement framework in the emergency, as well as modification of ongoing contracts in the context of COVID-19 crisis.

The PPO prepared a document specifically for the COVID-19 situation called “Guidance for Procuring Entities”, in which it promotes the possibility to use direct negotiated procedure as a way to react quickly to the emergency. The document also includes a set of model situations to help the procuring entities with their purchases

The PPO also instructs contracting entities, which planned to open tenders during the current restrictions, to use electronic means where possible (when information system was used for the public procurement procedure), or postpone the day of opening tenders if the tenders were submitted in physical form.

The PPO currently is preparing two additional guidance, already with an outlook to the post-COVID situation:

  • the first guidance will support the participation of SME´s in the tenders after the COVID-19 situation, and

  • the second guidance shall instruct contracting authorities and contracting entities how to prepare conditions for the participation of SME´s in the tenders.

The government approved a special law, the “Lex korona” (Act 62/2020), which contains special measures on COVID-19 situation. It also modified the Act on public procurement and brought changes to Section 11, which prevents contracting authorities and entities from concluding contracts with tenderers who are not registered in the register of public sector partners (an anti-corruption measure): Now it is possible for contracting authorities and entities to conclude contracts, concession contracts and framework agreements with such tenderers:

  • if the aim is to protect lives or health during a state of emergency, and

  • the subject matter is to be awarded due to an emergency that was not caused by the contracting authority and could not have been foreseen,

  • and neither an open procedure or restricted procedure or negotiated procedure with publication may be conducted due to the extreme time pressure (contracts below the threshold are exempted from meeting this condition).

Centralised purchasing of medical supplies:

  • Because of the general insufficiency in medical supplies, the government has initiated centralised purchasing through the Administration of State Material Reserves of the Slovak Republic (ASMR).

  • The ASMR makes bulk purchases of facemasks, diagnostic tests, respirators and other protection equipment, which are later distributed through self-governing regions (8 in total) to the network of healthcare providers in their governance.

  • According to the Journal of Public Procurement, the ASMR contracted 25 deliveries of medical materials using direct negotiated procedure in total amount of 54.1 mil. EUR during March and April (figures valid as of April 17th).

Infrastructure

The new Prime Minister (PM) formed a new Permanent Crisis Management Team94 built around five respected authorities from different areas of expertise (biochemical scientist, expert on infectious diseases, chief of medical trade union, manager in ICT sector and expert on marginalised Roma communities). It is much more agile than the Central Crisis Management Team and its role is to co-ordinate the individual crisis management teams set up in different ministries and to provide advice to the PM.

Changes to transport infrastructure:

  • State borders were closed with the exceptions for Slovak citizens, those working in Slovakia who reside in towns nearby the state borders and suppliers of goods.

  • All international rail and bus transports were cancelled, and all international airports were shut down. Transit only is permitted for international inland water transport.

  • Free rail transport for students was temporarily cancelled.

The government set up temporary quarantine facilities, where all travellers (with certain exceptions) from abroad have to be tested for presence of COVID-19 and in case of negative test are placed in mandatory 14-day home quarantine95. This quarantine also applies for all inhabitants who share the traveller’s home. The quarantine facilities include primarily dormitories, military facilities, hotels and other recreational facilities owned by the state.

The government also announced state of emergency for certain subjects in the healthcare infrastructure (e.g. ambulances, public health authorities, funeral services, social care facilities).

Ministry of Health is expected to designate three regional hospitals, which will specialise solely on caring COVID-19 patients. Other hospitals are supposed to repurpose entire pavilions for this purpose. All hospitals were also asked to postpone all operations, diagnostics and examinations that are not inevitable.

The largest provider of private healthcare in Slovakia also modified some of their hospital departments into COVID care units.

Temporary drive-through testing sites were set up in front of several hospitals in order to take samples directly from people sitting in their cars, which are then sent to laboratories for testing.

All shops must provide hand sanitisers or single-use gloves at the entrance and instruct their customers to wear facemasks on their premises. All post offices and rail wagons have to be disinfected regularly.

The government plans to propose a law based on which state authorities will be allowed to use localisation data of people submitted by mobile phone operators during the crisis with the aim of identifying the infected ones.

Economic reference

COVID-19 related public spending

Since the whole public procurement process takes a long time, it can be expected that most of public spending in response to COVID-19 situation will be realised through direct negotiated procedures. From currently available data (April 21st), it was identified that 68 direct negotiated procedures directly related to COVID-19 were realised in total amount of 63.4 mil. EUR, of which:

  • 25 were realised by the ASMR in the amount of EUR 54.1 million,

  • 17 were realised by hospitals in the amount of EUR 3.4 million,

  • 14 were realised by municipalities and self-governing regions in the amount of EUR 2.68 million.

Several contracts related to COVID were also identified in the Electronic Contracting System maintained by the Ministry of Interior (only contracts with significant amounts are mentioned below):

  • 3 contracts are currently being realised by Ministry of Interior in total amount of EUR 6.3 million,

  • 1 contract was realised by a hospital in the amount of EUR 6,000.

In relation to infrastructure investments, only one public procurement procedure related to COVID situation was found:

  • Reconstruction work on a hospital to the amount of EUR 317,727.

Government’s financial aid plan

The government approved a financial “First Aid” to support the economy96:

  • The state offers to cover 80 % of employee wage for companies that were mandatorily closed as a result of COVID-19

  • State financial aid for those self-employed, whose revenues dropped by at least 20 %

  • State covers 55 % of the wages of quarantined employees and parents who take care of their children

  • Several mandatory payments have been postponed (taxes, social insurance) for businesses whose revenues dropped by at least 40 %

  • Entrepreneurs and SMEs can request a delay in paying mortgage and loan instalments for 1 to 9 months

Out of the box initiative/solution

Slovak scientists from various organisations started collaborating on the development of COVID-19 tests and plan to give the first 100,000 tests to the government for free.

An initiative called Who will help Slovakia was started in the early phase of the outbreak as a response to the disease. The initiative raised money and bought necessary equipment for hospitals and other healthcare providers.

A web-app called “We stand by you” that allows self-employed and micro businesses, who currently cannot offer their services, to offer a “future service” to customers as a way to generate revenues.

Initiative podnikanie.help, which focuses on providing assistance for entrepreneurs whose enterprises suffer from the restrictive measures related to COVID-19. The web summarises all the relevant information regarding government aid for businesses, it also provides help with meeting administrative requirements necessary to get obtain the aid (the initiative also developed an online tool that generates the necessary request that has to be submitted).

References / useful resources

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Country Factsheet: Slovenia

Introduction

On April 2nd 2020, the Slovenian Parliament adopted the Intervention Act for the fight against COVID-19 (Zakon o interventnih ukrepih za zajezitev epidemije COVID-19 in omilitev njenih posledic za državljane in gospodarstvo) (hereinafter: ZIUZEOP). The act entered into force at 11th of April 2020. The second set of Intervention acts is under preparation.

Immediate public investment policy responses

Procurement

Special rules for emergency contracting of critical items

On 20 March 2020, the Ministry of Health set mandatory EN standards which must be observed when procuring personal protective equipment (PPE) and ventilators/respirators97.

Government of the Republic of Slovenia tasked the Agency for Medicinal Products and Medical Devices of the Republic of Slovenia to prioritise their activities at providing supply of medicines and the continued availability of medicines, including medicines directly used for patients with COVID-19. The Agency started its activities before the outbreak of the epidemic in Slovenia by announcing on 27 February 2020 an invitation to all stakeholders for dialogue and proactive reporting of disruptions or problems in the supply of medicines. The Agency has also established regular direct communication with major manufacturers and suppliers of medicines. They have not yet been informed of any major problems in the production or availability of medicines due to COVID-19 and related measures.

In order to provide key medicines for the treatment of COVID-19 and other patients who need those medicines due to their clinical treatment, the Government of the Republic of Slovenia issued an ordinance limiting the prescription and dispensing of certain medicines.

The procurement of medicines for COVID-19 is mostly undertaken by hospitals themselves.

Special institutional arrangements for purchasing goods/services needed for the fight against COVID-19 or for co-ordinating the purchases

The Government of the Republic of Slovenia set up an interdepartmental group to receive, review and evaluate offers for personal protective equipment (PPE) and other equipment needed to combat COVID-19. The Interdepartmental group consists of 9 members from Ministry of Defence, Ministry of Health, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Internal Affairs, Ministry of Economic Development and Technology and Agency of the Republic of Slovenia for Commodity Reserves. Group is chaired by the State Secretary from Ministry of Defence (which overseas Administration for Civil Protection and Disaster Relief).

The group adopted the protocol for procurement of COVID-19 supplies and authorised the Administration for Civil Protection and Disaster Relief gather and evaluate all offers. They are supported by healthcare professionals from Slovenian hospitals who provide the necessary knowledge to evaluate the offers. If the offer is recognised as appropriate, the Administration for Civil Protection and Disaster Relief submits the offer to the Agency of the Republic of Slovenia for Commodity Reserves who acts as the contracting authority and concludes contracts with the selected bidders. They are the custodian of all contracts, while Administration for Civil Protection and Disaster Relief provides their capacities to collect all delivered goods and distribute them amongst all users (hospitals, nursing homes, critical infrastructure).

Support provided by the respective ministry or public procurement central body to the contracting authorities on how to handle the current situation in terms of contracting, in terms of managing the current contracts

Following the “measures associated with the COVID-19 crisis” prepared by the Government of the Republic of Slovenia, the Ministry of Public Administration, Public Procurement Directorate established a web page dedicated to new information on public procurement notices associated to COVID-19 threat. The page provides essential information related to different options within the public procurement procedures. The page is regularly updated through frequently asked questions: https://ejn.gov.si/obvestilo.html.

Regarding the COVID-19 situation the provisions of the national law of Public Procurement Act (Official Gazette RS, no. 91/15 and 14/18; hereinafter: PPA-3) are fully applicable, meaning that contracting authorities have to follow public procurement procedure in selecting tenderers for the supply of goods, services or works. However, PPA-3 includes certain exceptions in which the public procurement procedure for the supply of goods, services or works can be excluded or replaced by the negotiated procedure without prior publication, in order to simplify and speed up the procedure.

The Article 27 of the PPA-3 provides exceptions to which the law does not apply, as for example in the point 8 of the first paragraph of the Article 27 stating:.”PPA-3 does not apply to public contracts for equipment or technical products and other public contracts to ensure fundamental conditions for survival and/or life or to prevent imminent threat of damage in the event of natural or other disaster, in accordance with the regulations on protection against natural or other disasters, when the value of the contract does not exceed the value requiring publication in the Official Journal of the European Union.”

The replacement of standard procurement procedure by the negotiated procedure without prior publication, defines point č) in the first paragraph of the Article 46 of the PPA-3: “Contracting authorities may use a negotiated procedure without prior publication for public works contracts, public supply contracts and public service, if for reasons of extreme urgency brought about by events unforeseeable by the contracting authority, the time limits for the open or restricted procedure or competitive procedure with negotiation cannot be complied with. The circumstances invoked to justify extreme urgency shall not in any event be attributable to the contracting entity.”

In the ZIUZEOP public procurement is covered in Article 90. The Article directly changes the provisions of the first paragraph of Article 21 and the fourth paragraph of Article 66 of the PPA-3, referring to:

  • temporary raise of the thresholds for the application of the law in the general field, and

  • the regulation of public procurement in municipalities (and its subdivisions), which is temporarily returned to its current position before the enforcement of the PPA-3.

The first paragraph of the Article 90 of the ZIUZEOP refers to the national thresholds for the application of the PPA. It provides that, notwithstanding the provisions of the PPA-3, by November 15 2020, the PPA-3 in the general field, applies to 1) procurements for public supply or service contracts or design contests with an estimated value not including the value-added tax being EUR 40,000 or more, and 2) procurements for public works contracts of 80,000 EUR or more. In other words, the thresholds for the application of the law are being raised in the general field, while in the infrastructural ones remain the same.

The following Articles 64, 75, and 91 are indirectly related to the field of public procurement.

The Article 64 of ZIUZEOP states that notwithstanding the first paragraph of the Article 32 of the Implementation of the Republic of Slovenia's Budget for 2020 and 2021 Act98, deadline for payments to private entities by direct and indirect users of the budget is 8 days. As the article does not contain a specific provision on the duration of the measure, it is valid until 31 May 2020.

The first and the second paragraphs of the Article 75 of the ZIUZEOP provides that, regardless regulations governing green public procurement, 50 percent of raw and processed agricultural products and foodstuffs in public institutions, have to be purchased from the territory of the Republic of Slovenia, if the value of the annual procurement contract does not exceeds the values ​​from which participation invitation should be announced in the Official Journal of the European Union. The measures of the second paragraph are implemented until the end of 2020.

The Article 91 of the ZIUZEOP provides that contracts for the supply of goods or the provision of a service or works by private-law entities concluded with state bodies or self-governing local communities, public agencies, public funds, public institutes and public commercial establishments, and other bodies governed by public law, which are indirect users of the state or local government budget and do not relate to the supply of the protective equipment required to combat the COVID-19 for the duration of the epidemic, do not apply delay penalties and the contractually agreed deadlines are extended for the duration of the epidemic COVID-19.

Beside above listed activities, the Ministry of Public Administration, Public Procurement Directorate established the telephone line for urgent information regarding the COVID-19 situation. All information related to present COVID-19 situation are also provided by our regular in/out telephone consultations, via helpdesk web application and e-mail.

All our recommendations are in accordance with the European Commission's Guidelines on using the public procurement framework in the emergency situation related to the COVID-19 crisis” published in the Official Journal of the European Union on April 1st, 2020.

The central body for the public procurement of commodity reserves for protection and rescue purposes in Slovenia is the Agency of the Republic of Slovenia for Commodity Reserves, which was established by the Government of the Republic of Slovenia for providing services of general economic interest.99

Slovenia also joined to the joint procurement for masks by the European Commission.

Economic reference

The volume of public spending through public procurement for COVID-19 outbreak:

Some of the respective data are available on the website of the Agency of the Republic of Slovenia for Commodity Reserves: https://www.dbr.si/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/Spletna-stran-Status-naro%C4%8Dil-za%C5%A1%C4%8Ditnih-sredstev-na-dan-12.-april-2020.pdf

References / useful resources

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Country Factsheet: Spain

Introduction

Due to the current situation regarding the COVID-19 outbreak, the Spanish government has published various measures and implemented action protocols to protect the public health in different areas. These Royals Decrees are the following:

On 14th March, the Royal decree 463/2020 announced the state of emergency;

On 17th March, the Royal Decree Law 8/2020 was published; this decree states the urgent and extraordinary measures that must be taken to deal with the economic and social impact of COVID-19;

On 27th March, the Royal Decree Law 9/2020 declared the adoption of complementary measures in the employment field, to reduce the COVID-19 effects;

On 29th March, the Royal Decree Law 10/2020 was published; this Decree regulates recoverable paid leave for employees who do not provide essential services; the aim is to reduce population mobility in the context of the fight against COVID-19; and

On 31st March, the Royal Decree 11/2020 announced additional social and economic measures to face the COVID-19 crisis.

Immediate public investment policy responses

Public Procurement

Contract management

  1. 1. The Spanish government has taken specific measures to deal with the contract management during the Covid-19 period. These measures include the suspension of some contracts, the extension of deadlines and some guarantees, and advance payments to the affected suppliers.

  2. 2. The suspension of the following contracts will be foreseen when their performance becomes impossible or impossible to continue, as a result of COVID-19:

    • public services

    • supply

    • public works

  3. 3. The contracting entity who has suspended the contract is obliged to compensate the supplier for certain damages (wages, maintenance of guarantees, rent or maintenance costs of machinery and insurance policies) suffered during the suspension period (upon request).Where contracts cannot be suspended and do not fall under provisions of regular contract extensions (i.e. are under a fixed deadline), an exceptional extension of the contract, taking into account delays in fulfilment due to COVID-19, may be granted to ensure that the supplier can fully complete the work. These suppliers will have for example certain rights to a capped reimbursement of salary expenses.

  4. 4. In public contracts for works and service concessions concluded by public sector entities, the situation caused by COVID-19 will entitle concessionaires to a financial adjustment by extending the term (with a maximum of 15%) or modifying the clauses on economic content. In addition, concessionaires will have certain rights to payment of salary expenses with limits.

  5. 5. Similar measures are foreseen for excluded sectors’ contracts.

  6. 6. Special measures will be granted to support COVID-19 research.

Acquisition of emergency goods

On 26th March, the Spanish government announced a second purchase of masks for subsequent distribution by the Ministry of Transport, Mobility and Urban Agenda (Ministerio de Transportes, Movilidad y Agenda Urbana). The government proceeded to centrally purchase up to 5,000,000 FFP2 graded masks for the transport sector due to the public health emergency caused by COVID-19.

Infrastructure

There has been a suspension of the regime of liberalisation of foreign direct investments in the critical infrastructure sector. This sector includes energy, transport, water, healthcare, communications, media, data treatment or storage, aerospace, defence, electoral or financial industries, and sensitive facilities, as well as key land and real estate assets for the use of these infrastructures.

Economic reference

The Spanish government launched the first EUR 100 billion package of measures to tackle the crisis of the Corona virus.

Out of the box initiative/solution

The Madrid City Council came up with different ideas to help its citizens in different ways during the COVID-19 crisis:

  • ‘Madrid sale al balcón’ (Madrid goes out to the balcony) is a virtual communication platform to encourage the citizens to propose new and viable ideas to boost their well-being during the hard times.

  • Conectados’ is a digital meeting place for citizens of Madrid and technicians to communicate during the COVID-19 confinement. The platform has a programme of live sessions in which municipal experts can inform citizens on how they will provide services.

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Country Factsheet: Sweden

Introduction

The spread of COVID-19 disease has a major effect on people’s lives and health100 and on the economy in Sweden. During this crisis, public procurement is a prerequisite for coping with the supply of necessary materials and equipment, especially for health care, and the government stresses that purchases must be able to take place efficiently and quickly. The government also state that public procurement has a stabilising effect on the economy. Public purchases amounts to approximately SEK 700 billion per year and is important for suppliers in this situation. However, Sweden's administration is highly decentralised, which affects how various public procurement authorities act.

Immediate public investment policy responses

The Swedish National Agency for Public Procurement (NAPP) is gathering information on issues that concerns public procurement and state aid rules as a result of the spread of the new coronavirus. NAPP is for example providing support for procurement in emergency situations i.e. if there is quick track in the Public Procurement Act (LOU) to cover urgent needs. NAPP has developed a guidance on which procurement procedures can be used, special emphasis is placed on negotiated procedures without prior advertising and direct procurement; the period of validity of the tenders and contract terms; the rules governing the review of contracts and the validity of contracts. In addition, NAPP also provides Q&A for both contracting authorities and suppliers and inform about the roles of various actors in public procurement with a view to clarifying where suppliers should turn when they want to offer goods and services to the public sector as a result of the corona crisis.

The National Board of Health and Welfare, which is a government agency under the Ministry of Health and Social Affairs, has been commissioned to coordinate at national levels and also carry out procurement of medical materials, protective equipment and certain medical technology equipment.

To mitigate the effects of the COVID-19 outbreak and to reduce the spread of the virus, several economic measures have been taken by the central government. The National Board of Health and Welfare is receiving an additional SEK 20 million, primarily for staffing costs, training activities and supplies and their credit framework will be trebled from SEK 100 million to SEK 300 million to enable it to purchase protective equipment and testing kits. The government are also compensating municipalities and regions for extraordinary measures and extra costs in health and medical care associated with the COVID-19 virus.

Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency (MSB) has a coordinating role at the overall community level and disseminates information to the public. Among other things, they provide support to the actors involved who handle the functions of society under the current situation. MSB has also developed a planning support for deliveries of goods and services.

Economic reference

The Government, the Centre Party and the Liberal Party intend to propose additional funding totalling SEK 22 billion in the spring amending budget for 2020, which will be presented on 15 April.

To alleviate the impact for small and medium-sized enterprises, a crisis package was presented by the Government on 25 March. The package includes a central government loan guarantee to make it easier for companies to access financing. The proposal means that the central government will guarantee 70% of new loans banks provide to companies that are experiencing financial difficulty due to the COVID-19 virus but that are otherwise robust.101

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Country Factsheet: Switzerland

Introduction

Switzerland experienced a severe outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic registering above 28,000 cases and 1,400 deaths as of 21 April 2020. Confinement measures prohibit gatherings of more than five people as well as mandates the closure of schools, shops, bars, restaurants since 16 March 2020. The country is slowly easing confinement measures with a gradual reopening planned for the week 27 April.

The Swiss Federal Council declared the state of emergency on 16 March. To support the management of the crisis the Confederation introduced a scientific advisory body, the so-called Swiss National COVID-19 Science Task Force, to give science-based advice to political authorities.

Immediate public investment policy responses

Procurement

Switzerland introduced a series of measures to ensure necessary supplies to face the COVID-19 emergency with the COVID-19 Ordinance 2 of 13 March 2020102. The regulation introduces a reporting obligation of stock of medical supplies to the Office of Coordinated Medical Services (a body within the army). This Office is tasked with the coordination of medical resources in Switzerland’s 26 cantons in crisis periods.

On 3 April, the Confederation enhanced measures to ensure the supply of medical equipment and personal protective equipment (PPE) by introducing provisions supporting centralised procurement of essential medical goods that cannot be acquired through regular procurement channels. The army’s pharmacy is tasked with procurement of medical devices and PPE while the Federal Office of Public Health is responsible for procurement of medicines. Distribution of such goods is ensured through a distribution centre for each canton. Should the provision of essential medical goods not be sufficiently available, the Ordinance also allows for the possibility of the Federal Department of Home Affairs to require the cantons that have adequate stocks to redistribute part of their stocks to other cantons. The Ordinance also allows the Federal Council to require the prioritisation of production of necessary medical goods from Swiss manufacturers103.

Recommendations on using the public procurement framework

The Federal Procurement Conference issued recommendations to the attention of public buyers104 to illustrate the flexibilities provided by existing procurement legislation regarding the managing of ongoing contracts, public procurement procedures, planned procurements and procurements in the case of extreme urgency in the context of the coronavirus crisis. Such recommendations are intended to mitigate the effects on the Swiss economy during the extraordinary situation within the meaning of the Ordinance 2 of 13 March 2020 of the Federal Council on measures to combat the Coronavirus (COVID-19) and up to six months after the end of the extraordinary situation.

Infrastructure

The Federal Office for Civil Protection has responsibility for the protection of critical infrastructure following the National Strategy for Critical Infrastructure Protection 2018-2022. It coordinates relevant operators of critical infrastructure, regulatory authorities as well as the cantons105. With respect to the coronavirus pandemic, the operator Swissgrid has taken early measures to safeguard reliability of the grid and its workers, such as use of hand disinfectants, working from home (if applicable), and restricted access to buildings and facilities. A task force continuously monitors the evolving situation to ensure necessary action106. Nuclear power plant operators are also well prepared to address the situation, as pandemic preparedness plans have been put in place since 2008. Measures aim at the continuity of business and the safety of workers107.

Economic reference

Multiple economic packages have been introduced by the Swiss Federal Council to address the economic crisis triggered by the pandemic. In total, the fiscal supports amounts to over CHF 65 billion equivalent to approximately 9.3% of GDP. A first package launched on March 13 package amounts to CHF 10 billion and includes up to CHF 8 billion for partial unemployment compensation, CHF 1 billion for financial support to affected firms, CHF 580 million for loan guarantees for SMEs, and compensation for cancelled events. A second package announced on 20 March consists of CHF 32 billion and covers short-time work allowance, loans to SMEs, deferral of social-security payments for companies and extended payment periods for taxes, as well as compensation for lost earnings by self-employed. A third package worth around CHF 600 million per month was introduced in late March, while on 3 April the size of the loan guarantee programme was doubled108.

Media report that the Swiss army received a budget of CHF 800 million to locate and import medical supplies to face the coronavirus pandemic109.

Out of the box initiative/solution

Switzerland is making use of the capacity of the army to address the COVID-19 pandemic. Namely, army medics and reserves are operational to support the healthcare system. The military it also putting to use its own resources and equipment, such as ventilators. The Office of Co-ordinated Medical Services has increased its staff from about five to twenty by calling upon executives with a military background to support it. Beyond that, the Office of Co-ordinated Medical Services has the authority to mandate any person in Switzerland to help it with a given task needed to tackle the emergency. For instance, a project manager was recruited to ramp up capacity in ICU beds110.

Cargo flights from Swiss are flying medical equipment from several destinations such as China to Switzerland. One flight on 6 April contained 2.5 million surgical masks, 10 million gloves as well as goggles and thermometers worth more than CHF 3 million. The PPE is intended for distribution to 13 Swiss hospitals111. Additional deliveries are planned. In some instances, businessmen are chartering flights to retrieve face masks ordered in China112.

Swiss industry is also contributing to address the shortages by reorienting their production. For instance, Swiss textile firms are switching their production to face masks. Authorities have communicated their intentions for purchases and speedy procedures for the certification of masks, media report113.

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Country Factsheet: United Kingdom

Introduction

An economy-wide lockdown since 23 March in the United Kingdom, in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. While the borders do remain open, social distancing is in place. All schools, cafes, pubs, restaurants, cinemas, gyms and shops selling non-essential goods remain closed from 23 March (though some schools remain open for the children of key workers and restaurants can also offer takeaway service).

Immediate public investment policy responses

The UK Cabinet Office issued a Procurement Policy Note114 (PPN 01/20 – Responding to COVID-19), covering what emergency procurement procedures are permissible under current public procurement regulations. These include:

  • direct award due to unforeseeable extreme urgency;

  • direct award due to absence of competition or protection of exclusive rights;

  • call off from an existing framework agreement or dynamic purchasing system;

  • call for competition using a standard procedure with accelerated timescales;

  • extending or modifying a contract during its term.

The note explains that in responding to COVID-19, contracting authorities may enter into contracts without publishing procurement notices so long as they are able to demonstrate the following have all been met:

  1. 1. There are genuine reasons for extreme urgency, e.g.:

  • the contracting authority needs to respond to the COVID-19 consequences immediately because of public health risks, loss of existing provision at short notice, etc.;

  • the contracting authority is reacting to a current situation that is a genuine emergency – not planning for one.

  1. 2. The events that have led to the need for extreme urgency were unforeseeable, e.g.:

  • the COVID-19 situation is so novel that the consequences are not something the contracting authority should have predicted.

  1. 3. It is impossible to comply with the usual timescales in the PCRs, e.g.:

  • there is no time to run an accelerated procurement under the open or restricted procedures or competitive procedures with negotiation;

  • there is no time to place a call off contract under an existing commercial agreement such as a framework or dynamic purchasing system.

  1. 4. The situation is not attributable to the contracting authority, e.g.:

  • the contracting authority has not done anything to cause or contribute to the need for extreme urgency.

A supplementary Procurement Policy Note115 (PPN 02-20 - Supplier relief due to COVID-19) provides recommendations and guidance on payment to suppliers to ensure service continuity during and after the current COVID-19 outbreak, including immediate payment of invoices (with later reconciliation), identifying “at risk” businesses and continuing to pay those businesses even if contract delivery is suspended.

A third Procurement Policy Note116 (PPN 03/20 - Use of procurement cards - COVID-19) sets out information and guidance to central government departments, their executive agencies and non-departmental public bodies on the use of procurement cards. The aim is to accelerate payments to suppliers to support and improve cash flow for suppliers. This will help support the economy, jobs and infrastructure.

Economic reference

While information on the percentage of new funding towards public procurement is not publicly available, GBP five billion has been granted for the National Health Service (NHS) and other public services to tackle the virus (11 March). The UK Government is also waiving of custom duties and VAT tax on medical imports from outside the EU, including ventilators, testing kits and protective clothing in order to improve the delivery of critical medical supplies (31 March).

Out of the box initiative/solution

On March 16, through campaigns on their website and social media, the UK government released a statement stating they were looking for businesses who could support in the supply of ventilators and ventilator components across the UK as part of the response to COVID-19. As well as manufacturers, they also sought businesses with the following skills:

  • design/specification

  • rapid prototyping

  • contract/product assembly

  • certification/regulation/testing

  • logistics

  • medical training to come up with solutions for ventilators, which resulted in a major consortium coming forward to help.117

The UK government is supporting 11 designs following a clinician-led process. The ventilators have now been delivered through this process.

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Country Factsheet: United States

Introduction

The United States of America currently has the highest number of COVID-19 cases in the world, approximately three times more case than any other country. Forty-eight states have issued stay at home orders in the USA, with New York being the hardest hit state (as of 23 April 2020).

Immediate public investment policy responses

The declaration of a national emergency on 13 March 2020 elevated the thresholds under which the US government could procure commercial goods, and goods and services using simplified procedures.

The US government has also issued a number of tools and resources, necessary for the workforce to continue critical contracting activities and minimise disruption with the use of general acquisition flexibilities. This includes the promotion of innovative activities in response to COVID, primarily the encouragement of Virtual Procurement practices. This includes the innovative use of virtual activities, such as online industry conferences, video proposals, and virtual oral presentations and consensus evaluations, temporarily replacing standard face-to-face procurement procedures.

The Defence Production Act has been another regulatory instrument used in the United States. It is chiefly to place hundreds of thousands of orders by the US Government to ensure the procurement of vital equipment. The law permits federal agencies to skip an open procurement process that can take months and obliges companies to come to the table to sign a contract at the immediate request of the government. The Defence Production Act also allows for the ability to issue loans to expand a vendor’s capacity, controls the distribution of a company’s products and the more commonly used power of compels companies to prioritise the government’s order over those of other clients.118

For the first time during the COVID-19 crisis, this Law was put into action on 27 March in order to force General Motors to step up efforts to manufacture ventilators. Then the federal authorities raided the home of a hoarder in Brooklyn and his warehouse in New Jersey, invoking the Defence Production Act to recoup tens of thousands of surgical masks. While this Act certainly grants the US Government with a large amount of purchasing power, the shortcoming in the act is its inability to produce highly specialised manufacturing equipment overnight.

The Department of Defence issued a statement on emergency procurement, which allows contracting authorities to utilise the newly launched Commercial Items Determination (CID). Items listed under CID can be procured in a “streamlined manner” under a direct award procedure.119 Items listed under CID, as of 14 April, are: vaccines, treatments, emergency medical supplies, and facility-related services. This list is regularly updated.

In terms of infrastructure support, a USD 2 trillion infrastructure package, part of the government’s emergency response to the coronavirus pandemic, has been discussed extensively in the media and by the Executive.120 However, there is yet to be any legislative action to support this suggested package.

Economic reference

The Defence Production Act lets the government spend up to USD 50 million out of a special fund for the purpose of expanding production capacity and supply of necessary products.

Out of the box initiative/solution

The US Government is leveraging innovative business practices and technologies that can enable more informed decision-making, faster response, and acquisition of more effective and innovative solutions. This includes use of innovative pilot authorities that allow select agencies, including the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to more easily reach contractors that do not typically do business with the government but offer promising emerging technologies.

As an example, the US Department of Homeland Security recently issued a solicitation to support the efficient acquisition and testing of innovative commercial products from legitimate suppliers, as well as the efficient production and fielding of the successfully tested innovative commercial products. The solicitation was issued using the Department’s “commercial solutions opening” authority that provides significant procedural discretion to make multiple, stand-alone contract awards resulting from a merit-based peer review of viable innovative commercial products.

The Department is seeking to identify new solutions to support the detection of exposure, prevention, containment and treatment of COVID-19 and similar microbial threats. Proposed innovative commercial products may be, but are not limited to, products that:

  1. 1. supplement shortages and/or emerging needs for personal protective equipment,

  2. 2. enhance or expedite screening capabilities,

  3. 3. enhance or expedite facility cleaning capabilities,

  4. 4. extend testing capabilities,

  5. 5. utilise technology to support the COVID-19 response, or

  6. 6. convert existing production and logistics operations to support the COVID-19 response.121

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Factsheet: European Commission

Introduction

The European Commission is coordinating a common European response to the coronavirus outbreak to reinforce public health sector and mitigate the socio-economic impact. In this context, as far as public procurement is concerned, over the past weeks the Commission has acted to coordinate, speed up and reinforce the procurement efforts of medical equipment, and has directed research funding to the development of a vaccine. It has created a common stockpile of protective equipment for distribution where most needed. It has also adopted guidance on the options and flexibilities under the EU public procurement rules.

Immediate public investment policy responses

Guidance on using the public procurement framework

On 31 March, the European Commission adopted guidance on how to use the flexibilities offered by the EU public procurement framework in the emergency situation related to the coronavirus outbreak. The guidance provides an overview of the tendering procedures available to public buyers, applicable deadlines, and examples of how public buyers could find alternative solutions and ways of engaging with the market to supply much needed medical supplies.

Public procurement of medical and protective equipment under the Joint Procurement Agreement

Personal protective equipment – masks, gloves, goggles, face-shields, and overalls – as well as medical ventilators and testing kits are vital for hospitals, healthcare professionals, patients, field workers and civil protection authorities. The voluntary Joint Procurement Agreement with Member States (and the United Kingdom and Norway) enables the joint purchase of such equipment and supplies.

The Commission launched four different calls for tender for medical equipment and supplies on 28 February (gloves and surgical gowns), 17 March (personal protective equipment for eye and respiratory protection, as well as medical ventilators and respiratory equipment), and 19 March (laboratory equipment, including testing kits) - with participation of up to 25 Member States. When conducting joint procurements, the European Commission has a coordinating role, while the Member States purchase the goods.

Out of the box initiative/solution

Matching demand with supply for medical equipment

The Commission has set up a ‘Clearing house for medical equipment’, for a period of six months, that facilitates the identification of available supplies, including testing kits, and accelerates their matching with demand by the Member States. The Commission has contacts with hundreds of companies specialised in the production of medical devices and personal protective equipment including ventilators who have confirmed their intention to increase, or already have increased, their production to meet demand. Where necessary, the Clearing House will match these proposals with Member States’ needs and demands, and mediate technical or regulatory obstacles or bottlenecks in supply chains to ensure the swift delivery of this equipment.

Stockpiling and distributing supplies and equipment

On 19 March, as an additional safety net, the Commission proposed creating a strategic RescEU stockpiling – a common European reserve - of medical equipment such as ventilators, personal protective equipment, reusable masks, vaccines and therapeutics and laboratory supplies. The Commission will finance 90% of the costs of the stockpiling and will manage the distribution of the equipment to ensure it goes where it is needed most.

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Country Factsheet: Peru

Introduction

Peru has been fighting against COVID-19 since its confirmation of the first case on 6 March 2020. On 15 March, President Martín Vizcarra announced a State of Emergency through the Urgency Decree N° 026-2020 and the Supreme Decree Nº 044-2020-PCM (Decreto Supremo que declara Estado de Emergencia Nacional por las graves circunstancias que afectan la vida de la Nación a consecuencia del brote del COVID-19). Borders have been closed without allowing domestic and international movement. Only essential business operations are allowed such as health facilities, pharmacies, and supermarkets. On 18 March, the government announced a curfew (8pm to 5am), and extended it from 6pm to 5am on 3 March. (4pm to 5am for four northern departments) On 2 April, the government of Peru announced mandatory wearing of masks in the public as well as stricter measures that restrict public movement by gender. Men can only leave home on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays; women can do so on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. No one is allowed to go out on Sunday. As of 5 April, 40 000 citizens were arrested due to the incompliance with the curfew obligation. On 10 April, the government abandoned the said gender rotation, and announced that only one member of each household could go out per week from Monday to Saturday.

Immediate public investment policy responses

Procurement

Special rules for emergency contracting of critical items

In Peru, Article 27.1 (b) of Law Nº 30225 of State Contracts (Ley Nº 30225, Ley de Contrataciones del Estado) allows contracting authorities to apply direct awarding under the emergency situation including the emergency under the pandemic situation.

Ministry of Finance and Economy issued the Director Resolution N° 001-2020-EF.54.01 on 16 March, to stipulate the following measures that came into force on 17 March for the next 15 days:

  • Suspension of concluding tender processes announced before 16 March as well as signing of contracts.

  • Suspension of starting new tender procedures.

However, these suspension measures will not be applied to the procurement procedures necessary to accomplish the obligations under the State of Emergency declared through the Supreme Decree N° 044-2020-PCM in order to prevent the expansion of COVID-19. In addition, according to Director Resolution N° 002-2020-EF.54.01, issued on 30 March, Ministry of Finance and Economy also stipulated that suspension measures will not be applied to procurement procedures necessary to preserve and protect the integrity of population and public infrastructure.

OSCE (Organismo Supervisor de las Contrataciones del Estado), public procurement authority of Peru, extended the validity of these measures for 15 days until April 12 through the official notice N° 006-2020 issued on 27 March and then by 26 April through the official notice N° 009-2020 issued on 13 April.

On 25 March, OSCE announced that suppliers and contractors had the right to request for the extension of the contract period (starting date of contract, if applicable) through its official notice Nº 005-2020, because the State of Emergency constitutes a situation of force majeure that may affect the contract performance.

Special institutional arrangements for purchasing goods/services needed for the fight against COVID-19 or for co-ordinating the purchases

Centralisation

Purchases related to COVID-19 are made in a decentralised way by different entities. However, the Urgency Decree N° 026-2020 authorised the Central Purchasing Body (Perú Compras), upon request of the National Institute of Health (Instituto Nacional de Salud), to purchase the necessary goods and services to get, transport and process the samples for establishing diagnosis of COVID-19.

Special monitoring rules

OSCE has been working on increasing transparency in the procurement procedures under the state of emergency by disclosing the information. Since 11 April, OSCE has published information on procurement carried out under the state of emergency against COVID-19 within the National Open Data Portal of the Presidency of the Council of Ministers. Any citizens with internet access will be able to download the contracting information related to COVID-19 in EXCEL format. On 13 April, OSCE also established a transparency tool that visualises the information on the direct awarding of goods and services carried out under the state of emergency. The information available in this tool is, among others, contracting authority, publication date, procurement method, procurement items, awarded amount, and successful bidder. The user will also be able to filter the information according to region, sector, contracting authorities, product category and supplier. The tool visually ranks each sector and contracting authority in terms of the contract amount and the number of procedures so that citizens know who are carrying out procurement processes under the state of emergency.

Support provided to the contracting authorities

Guideline for local governments:

The government issued Urgency Decree Nº 033-2020 on 27 March in order to establish the measures to reduce the impact of the prevention measures declared by the State of Emergency against COVID-19 in the economy. Article 2 authorised local governments, exceptionally during Fiscal Year 2020, to carry out the procurement and distribution of basic necessities, in favour of the population in situation of vulnerability, in the framework of the declared health emergency by COVID-19.

In response to this Decree, OSCE published on 31 March the Guideline for Local Governments for the procurement of basic necessities in the framework of the State of National Emergency as well as frequent Q&A including how to carry out direct award procedures, in order to facilitate the procurement procedures of local governments.

Virtual training

Since 23 March, the OSCE has provided virtual trainings through Facebook within the framework of the prevention campaign “Yo me quedo en casa (I stay at home).” Each session (90 minutes) covers specific topics such as “Direct award under the emergency”, “ABC in public procurement”, “ABC on successful bid proposals”, “Contract management”, “Tender evaluation”, “Values for money and result-based management”, and “Ethics and integrity in selection procedures.” So far, more than 10 000 participated in these virtual training sessions.

Infrastructure:

  • Identification of critical infrastructure/risk management

    The Supreme Decree Nº 044-2020-PCM guaranteed, during the state of emergency, the continuity of services related to the supply of medicine, food, water, electric power, gas, telecommunications, municipal solid waste, funeral services, among others.

  • Modification of existing infrastructure

    San Isidro Labrador Hospital in Lima´s Ate Vitarte district has been adapted to treat exclusively patients with respiratory failure due to COVID-19. New care facility attached to this Hospital was built in 7 days. This modification added new beds and intensive care units to treat COVID-19 patients.

  • Delivery of temporary infrastructure

    Lima 2019 Pan American and Parapan American Village was made temporarily a Hospital for the care of COVID-19 patients. Peruvian President has confirmed up to 3,000 beds could be used in total if necessary.

Economic reference

According to the transparency tool mentioned earlier, 90 million nuevos soles (approximately USD 27 million) have been spent on the public procurement for the goods and services in response to COVID-19, since the State of Emergency was declared on 16 March.

Out of the box initiative/solution

On 8 April, OSCE prepared a digital format to request for refund of fees such as the registration fee to the National Registry of Suppliers (Registro Nacional de Proveedores: RNP), so that the format can be sent by e-mail to the OSCE for the refund process. This new tool is part of the OSCE's commitment to modernise procedures and services for citizens with the purpose of contributing to the compulsory social immobilisation ordered by the government to fight against the expansion of COVID-19.

Contact details:

Erika Bozzay (erika.bozzay@oecd.org)

Matthieu Cahen (matthieu.cahen@oecd.org)

Find out more about OECD work on Public Procurement and Infrastructure here: www.oecd.org/gov/public-procurement/

Notes

← 3. NSW have enough legislative powers to handle this under their current legislation, so haven’t needed to declare a state of emergency: https://www.maddocks.com.au/blog/understanding-the-legal-framework-behind-the-governments-public-health-response-to-covid-19/

← 12. Verwaltungsrechtliches COVID-19-Begleitgesetz – COVID-19-VwBG, Federal Law Gazette I No 16/2020, available at: https://www.ris.bka.gv.at/GeltendeFassung.wxe?Abfrage=Bundesnormen&Gesetzesnummer=20011086

← 18. https://www.bbg.gv.at/fileadmin/Bibliothek/Produktfamilien/OnePager_UEberblick_ueber_Vorsorgemassnahme.pdf, April 17, 2020 and https://www.e-shop.gv.at/e-shopx/#/themeworldactivation/110465

← 21. OECD, Key country policy responses, https://www.oecd.org/coronavirus/en/

← 22. SIGMA, Public Administration: Responding to the COVID-19 Pandemic: Belgium, April 2020

← 28. Circulaire du 23 mars 2020 - Conséquences des mesures sanitaires liées au Covid 19 sur les marchés publics wallons - Recommandations à l'attention des pouvoirs adjudicateurs wallons https://marchespublics.wallonie.be/files/Circulaire%20du%2023.03.2020%20publi%c3%a9e%20au%20MB%20le%2026.03.20.pdf

← 32. See table 2 in Annex 13 of the National Reform Programme of Belgium 2020, available here: https://ec.europa.eu/info/sites/info/files/2020-european-semester-national-reform-programme-belgium_en_0.pdf

← 35. Law on electronic data and e-commerce (Law 527 of 1999), law on efficient and transparent public procurement (Law 1150 of 2007) and law on the use of ICT in public procedures (Law 1437 of 2011).

← 37. Cf. ordonnance n° 2020-319 du 25 mars 2020 portant diverses mesures d'adaptation des règles de passation, de procédure ou d'exécution des contrats soumis au code de la commande publique et des contrats publics qui n'en relèvent pas pendant la crise sanitaire née de l'épidémie de covid-19.

← 38. Cf. ordonnance n° 2020-319 du 25 mars 2020 portant diverses mesures d'adaptation des règles de passation, de procédure ou d'exécution des contrats soumis au code de la commande publique et des contrats publics qui n'en relèvent pas pendant la crise sanitaire née de l'épidémie de covid-19.

← 66. Cabinet order No. 103 Adopted 12 March 2020 „”Regarding Declaration of the Emergency Situation” (prot. N0. 11 1. §), Published: Latvijas Vēstnesis, 51A, 12.03.2020.OP number: 2020/51A.1

← 67. https://www.iub.gov.lv/lv/node/1068

← 68. All the explanations and recommendations are available at the PMB website https://www.iub.gov.lv/lv/node/1068

← 87. Midlertidig lov om forskriftshjemmel for å avhjelpe konsekvenser av utbrudd av Covid-19 mv. (koronaloven) https://www.regjeringen.no/no/dokumenter/koronaloven/id2694609/ https://lovdata.no/lov/2020-03-27-17

← 91. Regulation of the Minister of Health of 20 March 2020 regarding the announcement of the state of the epidemic in the territory of the Republic of Poland; http://dziennikustaw.gov.pl/D2020000049101.pdf

← 94. The first one is the Central Crisis Management Team, which is formally a part of the public governance structure. It is led by the Minister of Interior and includes representatives of 24 different organisations. The new Permanent Crisis Management Team is built around five people, making it much leaner and more flexible to respond to current development.

← 95. Measure of the Public Health Authority number OLP/3012/2020. The fine for not respecting the quarantine is 1,659 EUR.

← 96. All adopted measures can be found in English on the following link: https://www.korona.gov.sk/en/covid-19-prijate-opatrenia.php

← 98. Official Gazette of the Republic of Slovenia, No. 75/19

← 99. Decree on establishing the Public Economic Institute for Commodity Reserves, Official Gazette of the Republic of Slovenia, No. 72/1995

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