Opacity or speeding up the awarding of contracts in the public sector?

The new Public Sector Contract Law, which came into force in March, 2018, has recently been amended by the Royal Decree Law 3/2020, dated the 4th of February, through which a series of European Directives that were pending implementation have been transposed to national law.  

The reform means that there will be a change in the procedures of awarding small contracts. The Authorities´ obligation to prove that the contractor had not signed small contracts, which separately or together, exceed the amount of €40,000 in construction work and €15,000 in services, has been abolished. As the measure established, until the reform, which we recall, its main purpose was to stop big contracts for higher amounts being broken up into various contracts for lower amounts, which ended up being awarded to the same contractor, thus avoiding stricter surveillance requirements and limitations imposed by the Contract Law. 

The current reform has been approved in accordance with the Royal Decree Law, that is to say, through a mechanism that involves a quick approval of the regulation that avoids the debate process and possible amendments being made in Spanish Parliament. This has been justified by the problems that numerous town councils have had, mainly in small towns, to award contracts, due to the lack of contractors, which has given rise to serious technical problems in the ordinary course of work of the Authorities. 

Many town and city Councils commend the reform and the elimination of the measure that stopped larger contracts being broken up into smaller ones, seeing as now they won’t have to justify the awarding of smaller contracts to the same contractor, which cuts down on the administrative procedures and speeds up the processing of their case files. 

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