When the tender conditions for the procurement of toner, office supplies, or coal for heating are fine-tuned, the Banja Luka company “Primaprom” has no reason to fear competition.
Written by: Miljan Kovač
With the Supreme Court of Republika Srpska alone, Primapro concluded more than 10 public procurement contracts in two years. It is exclusively about competitive demands and direct agreements.
Almost without exception, in all these public procurement procedures, this company was the only bidder. Others didn’t even have a chance, because they were eliminated in advance by the “precisely” prescribed conditions in the tender documentation.
Until recently, known only as a bookstore and stationery store, this company also supplies coal to the “Sveti Sava” Elementary School in Banja Luka, at probably the highest price that can be found on the market.
This is probably the reason why other schools never buy coal from this supplier.
Regardless, there is always work for “Primaprom” on all sides where public procurement is carried out, from the Supreme Court to the Ministry of Justice of the RS. The principle is always the same.
There is no competition in the Supreme Court
The Supreme Court of Republika Srpska has no doubts when it comes to public procurement of toner for printers and copiers. For years, the job has been awarded to the same bidder through a competitive request – the company “Primaprom” from Banjaluka.
The last in a series of contracts on public procurement, the Supreme Court of RS concluded with this bidder on January 1 of this year. The contract is worth 48,992.71 marks, of course, without VAT.
When selecting the most favourable bidder, “Primaprom” had no competition, as it was the only one to submit an offer that was 7.29 marks lower than the total estimated value of the contract.
However, “Primaprom” had no reason to worry about competition in this public procurement, given that the conditions for the qualification of bidders, which were stated in the tender documentation, were set in such a way that there was no room for competition.
Among the conditions, it is stated that bidders “must have a total business turnover in the business segment, which is the subject of procurement, in the minimum amount of 50,000 marks for the year 2021.
It would not be strange that the amount of 50,000 marks was determined as a condition in 2021, because “by some miracle”, “Primaprom” fulfilled this condition precisely by implementing the public procurement of the Supreme Court of the RS.
Thus, the Supreme Court concluded a contract with the same bidder on the first day of 2021 for the procurement of toner for printers and copiers in the amount of 39,953.80 KM, and already on April 26 of the same year, a contract worth 21,336.46 marks for the procurement of toner and consumable stationery for the needs of the Judicial Police of the RS.
And in December 2021, an identical procurement was repeated for the needs of the court police. Of course, the job was won by the same and only bidder, “Primaprom”, and the purchase price this time was just over 23 thousand marks.
The consumption of toner in the Supreme Court, judging by the public procurements, is really enormous, so these goods were also procured at the beginning of last year. And then, as expected, “Primaprom” submitted the best offer, so the public procurement contract in the amount of 49,874.40 marks was concluded on January 1, 2022.
On December 11 last year, “Primaprom” received from the Supreme Court the job of procuring toner and stationery for the needs of the judicial police. And this time, “Primaprom” was the only bidder. The offer in the amount of 29,851.54 KM is “even” 62 KM lower than the total estimated value of the procurement and had no competition.
The competition was also eliminated in advance by the tender conditions, which require bidders to have at least two completed contracts of the same or similar content, the value of which is not less than the value of 35,000 marks, including VAT. Unlike other potential bidders, “Primaprom” fulfilled this requirement by purchasing for the Judicial Police of the RS.
The Ministry of Justice knows who the real bidder is
The Ministry of Justice of Republika Srpska is also a frequent client of Primaprom. The last public procurement contract, worth 29,998.63 KM, was concluded on January 16 of this year, and it concerns the procurement of office supplies.
Interestingly, although the competitive request procedure was applied, “Primaprom” was the only bidder this time as well, and the offer it submitted was 1.37 marks lower than the estimated value of the contract.
As in the case of public procurement for the Supreme Court of the RS, the conditions in the tender are set in such a way that they do not leave much room for competition.
The bidder is required to have completed at least one contract, the character and complexity of which is similar to the procedure in question and the amount of which is at least 30,000 KM, but this time without VAT.
“Primaprom” concluded contracts of approximate values with the Ministry of Justice in 2020 and 2021.
In the archive of public procurements, it can be clearly seen that no other bidder has implemented contracts of such value.
However, in the case of public procurement by the Supreme Court of the RS and public procurement by the Ministry of Justice of the RS, the specifications of the goods to be procured are specified very precisely.
In both cases, the main item is occupied by toners, and the bidder is required to previously submit samples of certain toners, as well as other materials.
This means that the bidder who currently does not have the required toner in the warehouse could not even participate in the public procurement procedure.
Coal cannot be expensive
Public procurement of coal for heating, in which “Primaprom” was also the only bidder, is an example of the public procurement law being (mis)used in different ways from procurement to procurement.
Thus, the director of the “Sveti Sava” Elementary School, Miroslav Popržen, concluded a contract for the supply of coal with “Primaprom” twice last year. The first contract was concluded on January 11 last year. It is about the procurement of 180 tons of coal. And this time, “Primaprom” was the only bidder. An offer of 37,260 KM was accepted, although the value of the purchase was estimated at a total of 33,930 marks without VAT.
Miroslav Popržen/Photo: RAS Srbija
Among the conditions for participation in this public procurement, however, the bidders were not asked to provide proof of the realization of the contract, the value of which is equal to the estimated value of the contract in question. At least one confirmation of the successful realization of the procurement of coal was requested, without specifying the quantity and price of the procurement.
That is why the type of coal required is specified in detail. The subject of procurement is Banovići cube/walnut coal (or equivalent) whose calorific value is between 18,500 and
19 712 kj/kg. Therefore, the bidders who do not have this coal at their disposal had nothing to ask for at the tender of the Elementary School “Sveti Sava”.
If you look at the supply of mines in Bosnia and Herzegovina, it is clear that there is no equivalent to this kind of coal, nor can it be obtained anywhere else except in Banovići.
However, its price in that mine is significantly lower than the one at which “Primaprom” supplied it to Banjaluka, even when transportation costs are deducted.
This is best seen in the example of the second procurement of coal based on a competitive request, for which the director of the mentioned school also concluded a contract with the same bidder. The contract for the purchase of 200 tons of coal was concluded on November 9 last year. Of course, “Primaprom” was again the only one to submit an offer. This time in the amount of 49,600 marks without VAT, that is, 350 marks lower than the estimated value of the contract.
However, according to the official price list of the “Banovići” Mine, the price of a ton of coal, as described in this tender documentation, in 2022 was 179.49 KM (without VAT).
So, 200 tons of coal would cost 35,898 marks. Of course, without transportation. But even 13,702 marks without VAT are certainly not “small earnings” for just one purchase of coal. And the needs of the “Sveti Sava” school for coal fuel grow year after year, despite the milder winters. Thus, until 2021, that is, until the procurement of coal was entrusted to “Primaprom” for the first time, this school was also heated with 150 tons of coal at significantly lower prices and less demanding tender conditions, of course.
But Primapro does not only deal with toners and coal. The company, whose owners are Danka and Pero Vrhovac, also has an excursion site with a catering facility in Mlinska rijeka near Čelinac, where the director of the aforementioned school, Miroslav Popržen, is happy to organize school trips. Pražen is also the chairman of the Council for Basic Education in the City Committee of the SNSD Banjaluka. The media previously wrote about the dissatisfaction of parents due to the overpriced trips organized by the “Sveti Sava” school in Mlinska rijeka. “The children did not go to the meadow, but to the “Primaprom” excursion site,” answered Popržen at the time. A frequent guest in Mlinska rijeka is also the director of UKC and the first man of the Banja Luka SNSD, Vlado Đajić. In truth, Đajić has not concluded public procurement contracts with Vrhovec for the past few years, that’s why the members of the city committee headed by him, the directors of public institutions, institutions and companies have, and regularly.