Regulation of public procurement contracts in Tunisia

By Salah Daklaoui


Public procurement contracts are those concluded by public purchasers for performance of public orders, for agreed purchase price that exceeds a particular threshold amount. 

Due to their economic impact, public procurement contracts are governed by a set of principles such as competition, equal access to public orders, transparency and integrity of procedures.   

Public procurement contracts are concluded on competitive basis by way of tender. They may, however, exceptionally be concluded by direct agreement. 

The tender process is the principal method for award of procurement contracts; organizing a competitive process. The call for tender may be open or restricted, or in two phases, or by competition. A competent authority reviews the applications against numerous criteria such as Tunisian or foreign origin of the product, price, technical quality, performance deadlines, and guarantees advanced, experience, human resources, mobilized equipment, after sale services. The contract is automatically awarded to the bidder offering the lowest price while being in conformity with the above mentioned criteria. 

The public purchaser must prepare an annual forward plan at the beginning of every new year for the conclusion of public procurement contracts in compliance with the planned budget. Said plan shall be notified to the competent verification services before the end of February each year.

The public purchaser establishes a methodology for tender assessment. The criteria for assessment include (i) a set of criteria determined by the public purchaser, linked to the nature and to the details of the contract and (ii) a set of non-discriminatory criteria linked to the subject of the market.   

The services to be provided by the contract shall respond exclusively to the nature and the extent of the requirements. Furthermore, the technical specifications must be determined before any call for tender takes place, or any negotiation, thus guaranteeing the quality of services and the goods which are provided by the contract.

Once the best bid is selected by the public purchaser, the bidder shall provide the planned services. This step constitutes implementation of all the contractual obligations provided by the different provisions of the public market.

The bidder shall personally perform the contract. It is prohibited to use it as a contribution to a joint venture company, or to entrust performance to a third party.

Nevertheless, for service or for public works contracts, the bidder may entrust performance of part of the requested services to several subcontractors with prior written authorization from the public purchaser.

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