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It was recently announced in the press that (i) the Shura (Advisory) Council in the State of Qatar (the “State”) voted to revoke the law governing public procurement (Law No. 26 of 2005 (as amended by Law No. 22 of 2008 and Law No. 14 of 2010)) (“Procurement and Auctions Law”) and (ii) the Cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister and Interior Minister, HE Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa Al Thani, has reviewed and taken steps to pass the draft law recommended by the Shura Council. Along with a complete overhaul of the existing law, the draft law proposes numerous changes to streamline and standardise the public procurement process in Qatar. The changes are expected to provide more clarity to the public procurement process through the development of uniform guidelines.
The Current Position
Until there is legislative change, all public departments, corporations, agencies or entities funded in whole or in part by the State of Qatar remain subject to the Procurement and Auctions Law, which excludes from its scope the armed forces, the police force and Qatar Petroleum. The law requires that the procurement of goods, commercial contracts, service contracts and contracts for works must be concluded through a tendering process, which may be classified as either local, general (open) or restricted.
Under the current law, the Central Tenders Committee (CTC) and the Local Tenders Committee (LTC) facilitate the tendering process in Qatar, with the CTC processing all public tenders relating to contracts exceeding QAR 5,000,000 in value and the LTC processing all public tenders valued at QAR 5,000,000 or less. All public tenders valued at QAR 5,000,000 or less must be concluded through local tenders in which case only commercially registered suppliers, service providers and contractors in Qatar (having Commercial Registration with the Ministry of Economy and Commerce) may participate.
The Anticipated Changes
The proposed amendments will require each ministry to establish its own tender committee. Each tender committee will comprise representatives from the Ministry of Finance and the Diwan Audit Bureau. The new law will consist of 38 articles which will create uniform public tendering guidelines. These uniform guidelines will be implemented by each individual tender committee, will be designed to protect and preserve state (public) funds and will require a higher level of disclosure than provided under the current law.
Other notable changes:
The proposed law is a welcome development as it promises to decentralize the existing procurement process and replace it with a more efficient framework by creating tendering committees in the various ministries and governmental departments who will administer their own tenders. Once the law is enacted, the ministries and governmental departments will play a more involved role in the public procurement process than previously which should also serve to curb excessive government spending.