Measures taken in relation to the Public Procurement process due to COVID-19

The Treasury of the Republic of Cyprus has published a Circular dated 26 March 2020 which includes a series of measures in relation to Public Procurement contracts aiming to ensure that the process for concluding such contracts will continue as smoothly as possible in these extraordinary times caused by the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
 
Ms Rea Georgiou, General Treasurer of the Republic, has further assured the public and all relevant bodies that the Treasury of the Republic is following all the governmental measures necessary to deal with this pandemic and will continue to support the Public Procurement process in these challenging times.
 
Some of the major decisions announced by the Treasury in relation to the Public Procurement process are:
 
In relation to the conclusion of awarded public contracts:
 
1. Delay of signing or delayed start of the contract:
 
In relation to contracts that have already been awarded and their signing is outstanding, the relevant authorities / bodies will move forward with their signing and performance. However, in cases that the signing of these contracts cannot take place due to the current situation, their signing may be postponed, depending on the circumstances of each case, to a later suitable date.
 
2. Bid withdrawal:
 
In case where bids for public contracts are withdrawn at the evaluation stage and/or successful bidders asked to proceed with the signing of the contract state that they are no longer able to perform the relevant obligations due to the situation caused by COVID-19, bidders will be allowed to back down, under certain criteria, without the need to pay damages or losing their deposited participation guarantees.
 
3. Presentation of Certificates / Guarantee Letters
 
In case where successful offerors are not able to provide the necessary certifications and/or guarantee letters when they will be asked to sign the contract, due to the current situation, the relevant authorities will assess the circumstances and may proceed with the signing, requiring the relevant documents at a later date, or delay the signing or determine that the bidder is not able to perform the contract but not require any compensation due to the said inability, as per point 2 above.
 
In relation to new or outstanding Public Procurement contests:
 
1. Accelerated procedures for conclusion of public contracts
                                                                                                                 
Considering that in the current climate created by the COVID-19 virus a number of affected authorities / bodies will need to enter into public contracts quickly to perform urgent and/or added duties, the awarding authorities will be able, if needed, to perform accelerated public procurement procedures, always in accordance with the applicable legislation and published circulars and procedures.
 
2. Participation Guarantees / Commitment for non-withdrawal of a bid
 
The awarding authorities will try to avoid requiring participation guarantees or commitment for non-withdrawal of bid from the date of issuance of the circular.
 
3. Extension of deadline for submitting a bid
 
The awarding authorities have the power to assess the option of extending the bidding deadline, especially in cases where this is requested by the relevant economic operators, in order to ensure that there is sufficient competition in the public procurement process.
 
4. Period of bids validity
 
The awarding authorities also have the power to prolong the bid’s initial validity period, taking into consideration the virus’ effects. This will only take place if appropriate and necessary and under the requirement that this does not place a disproportional burden to the economic operators.
 
5. Provision of clarifications by Economic Operators
 
Finally, in relation to public contracts which are at the stage of bid evaluation, there may be a time extension for replying to existing or new clarification questions posed by the relevant authorities to any economic operators.
 
For any clarifications required in relation to the Public Procurement process, the email address ppd@treasury.gov.cy may be used.
 
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