The introduction of a High Level Reporting Mechanism can reduce corruption in public procurement in Bulgaria

Industry / Bulgaria
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The introduction of the High Level Reporting Mechanism (HLRM) can significantly reduce corruption in public procurement in Bulgaria. The participants in the round table "Implementation of the High Level Reporting Mechanism in Bulgaria - Consultations between business and representatives of the Bulgarian government", held yesterday in Sofia, gathered around this. The organizer of the event is the Basel Institute for Good Governance, in partnership with the Association of Industrial Capital in Bulgaria, the Bulgarian-Swiss Chamber of Commerce and the American Chamber of Commerce in Bulgaria.

The high-level reporting mechanism is a tool in line with the requirements and recommendations for early signaling and reporting of suspected corrupt practices in public procurement processes for large public investment/infrastructure projects. This mechanism also aims to facilitate the rapid resolution of such signals without significantly delaying the procurement process.

"From its establishment until today, the main goal and task of AICB is the clarification of the Bulgarian economy, which inevitably includes the conduct and execution of public procurement. The association has always been a major driver in promoting processes to ensure transparency, reduce administrative burdens and improve the efficiency of public procurement. Therefore, we are ready to support all the necessary steps that will lead to the introduction and implementation of such a mechanism", said the member of the Board of Directors of AICB Kiril Boshov.

According to Nikola Bonucci, member of the Board of Directors of the Basel Institute for Management and former Director of Legal Affairs of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the Mechanism will be tailored to the legal framework and needs of Bulgaria. And he added that a survey conducted among private and public sector companies showed that the most serious problem is manipulation of tenders.

"The high-level reporting mechanism can address some of the most frequently cited problems, such as the lack of transparency, impartial evaluation and control of public procurement, as well as the issuance of fictitious invoices and cost overruns." Corruption in public procurement is the reason for almost 55 percent of surveyed companies not wanting to participate in public tenders, while this percentage in the EU is 26%," said Nicola Bonucci.

The participants were also unanimous in determining the sectors where the risk of corrupt practices in public procurement is the highest. These are infrastructure projects, energy and healthcare.

The mayor of Sofia municipality, Vasil Terziev, told the participants in the round table that he is committed to turning Sofia into one of the most transparent municipalities in the country. And he added that the process of introducing an anti-corruption mechanism to ensure even greater transparency for citizens and businesses is currently underway in the Metropolitan Municipality.

On 10 October 2023, the Basel Institute launched the High Level Reporting Mechanism discussion by organizing an event on "Strengthening Transparency and Governance through Collective Action", jointly with the Ministry of Finance and in cooperation with the Bulgarian-Swiss Chamber of Commerce, American Chamber of Commerce and Transparency Without Borders Association. The purpose of the round table was to build on these efforts and propose concrete solutions for the implementation of HLRM in Bulgaria. The authoritative Swiss organization is independent and specialized in the fight against corruption and related financial crimes.

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