When Lutrija Bosne i Hercegovine initiates a public procurement process for advertising in the media, there is no doubt about who will win the tender and get the job. The reason is simple - this contractual body already determines in the procurement subject which bidder it applies to.
Written by: Miljan Kovač
The fact that Lutrija Bosne i Hercegovine blatantly violates the provisions of the Public Procurement Law in this way does not seem to concern them - potential bidders dare not even file complaints, as the appeal process is expensive and the outcome uncertain.
Among the recent "lucky winners" of Lutrija Bosne i Hercegovine are the Sarajevo agency "Netra", Radio M, and Radio Dobre Vibracije.
They were awarded lots in the public procurement process, with contracts totalling around 50,000 BAM excluding VAT.
Lutrija Bosne i Hercegovine awarded a contract worth 25,634.75 BAM excluding VAT to the agency "Netra" from Sarajevo at the end of last year.
This was a public procurement divided into multiple lots, with the subject being advertising in the programs of radio and TV stations.
The mentioned agency was the only one to submit a bid for this lot, which is not surprising considering that the procurement subject was listed as "Advertising of Lutrija Bosne i Hercegovine in the programs of RSG Radio, Radio Mix, and Antena Sarajevo radio stations."
As the agency "Netra" is one of the legal entities that make up the media group along with RSG Radio and Radio Mix, there was no doubt about who could win this public procurement contract.
By clearly specifying in the tender documentation which radio stations the procurement subject pertains to, any potential competition was eliminated in advance.
The same case applies to the remaining lots of this procurement. Lot 2, which pertains to advertising on Radio M, was logically awarded to Radio M, which was expectedly the only bidder, and a contract was concluded in the amount of 13,600 marks.
Advertising of Lutrija Bosne i Hercegovine on Radio Dobre Vibracije was also awarded to the radio station whose name was mentioned in the subject of the public procurement. The value of the contract in this case is 10,621 marks. The fact that the mentioned bidders did not fear possible competition is evident from the fact that all submitted bids were either identical to the total estimated value of the procurement or, as in the case of the "Netra" agency, the bid price was slightly lower than the total estimated value of the contract.
Transparency International Bosnia and Herzegovina (TI) believes that this way the Public Procurement Law has been grossly violated by discriminating against potential bidders.
"In the public procurement procedure, whether it is an open procedure or a competitive request, specific bidders should not be referred to. The contracting authority may indicate the market it targets, but it must not specifically state which media the procurement pertains to, as that is open discrimination against other media", says Damjan Ožegović from TI Bosnia and Herzegovina.
No one can compete with Hayat
Hayat TV also has good business cooperation with Lutrija Bosne i Hercegovine.
The result of this cooperation is a public procurement contract that was concluded between Edhem Pašukan, the director of the Lottery, and Hayat TV on May 16th of last year, with a value of 39,501 marks excluding VAT.
The procurement was divided into lots, and Hayat TV was the only one to submit a bid for lot number 3. This was expected, as the subject of procurement for this lot was listed as "Advertising of Lutrija Bosne i Hercegovine on Hayat TV", which eliminated possible competition in advance.
The procurement was conducted through an open procedure and was divided into several lots.
In all lots, the media name in whose program the lottery wants to advertise was precisely specified as the subject of procurement. Thus, the procurement for "Advertising on N1 BiH" was awarded to the agency "Ascanius Media". The value of this contract was 30,025 marks. As expected, there was no competition in this case, as well as in other lots in this procedure.
The Law on Public Procurement of Bosnia and Herzegovina is more than clear in such situations.
"Unless justified by the subject matter of the procurement, the technical specifications must not refer to a particular manufacturer, origin or special process, trademarks, patents, types or specific origin, if this would favour or exclude certain economic operators or certain products", states Article 54 of this law, among other things.
The law further states that "such references are allowed only if the subject matter of the procurement cannot be described with sufficient precision and clarity, but must always be accompanied by an addition or equivalent."
In the case of the mentioned public procurements of the Lutrija Bosne i Hercegovine, ignorance of the subject matter of procurement does not exempt the contracting authority from the obligation to define the subject matter of procurement on a genuine competitive basis, as the law is uncompromising and states that "lack of knowledge of the subject matter of procurement does not release the contracting authority from the obligation to define the subject matter of procurement on a genuinely competitive basis."
However, the practice of Hayat receiving the identical public procurement contract from Lutrija Bosne i Hercegovine in an almost identical manner has been repeated for years.
Furthermore, in previous years, there was even less room for competition, as a competitive requirement was applied to the procurement procedure.
This was the case the previous year when Lutrija BiH awarded Hayat an identical contract.
The value of the contract concluded on August 17, 2021, was 38,988 marks, which is only two marks less than the total estimated value of the procurement. This time, the procurement procedure was conducted through a competitive requirement.
However, Hayat had no competition, as the subject matter of procurement was also "Advertising on Hayat TV program."
In the same manner and through the same procedure (competitive requirement), this media company has been awarded the identical contract in previous years, starting from 2016 when a contract worth "48,944.70 marks" was signed for an identical public procurement.
The allocation of funds from Lutrija Bosne i Hercegovine for media through public procurements has gained intensity in the past two years, at least when it comes to the mentioned media. Considering that over half a million marks are allocated for advertising in the media in the current year's procurement plan, it is certain that some TV stations and radio stations have sufficient reason to count on a sure win in the "games of chance" through the public procurement system of Lutrija Bosne i Hercegovine.