Public Procurement is covered by the Public Procurement Regulations (PPRs), and the Public Procurement of Entities Operating in the Water, Energy, Transport and Postal Services Sectors Regulations (PPREs). These regulations transpose the requirements of Directive 2004/17/EC and Directive 2004/18/EC.
However, the PPRs do not cover all types of public contracts, like those linked to certain international agreements, or those of a sensitive nature which may be accompanied by special security measures for instance.
Types of public procurement
The PPRs provide for different types of tendering procedures, the most common being:
- Open - any interested economic operator may submit a tender;
- Negotiated - contracting authorities consult the economic operators of their choice and negotiate the terms of a contract with one or more of these;
- Restricted - only those operators invited by the contracting authorities may submit a tender;
- Competitive Dialogue - any economic operator may request to participate, the contracting authority then conducts a dialogue with the candidates admitted to that procedure, and on the basis of which the candidates chosen are invited to tender.
Tendering procedure: step-by-step guide
Maltese departments and public organizations administer their procurement requirements up to the threshold of €120 000 net of VAT. The Department of Contracts as Central Government Authority, issues and processes tenders on behalf of most Contracting Authorities (as per Schedule 2 of the PPRs) when the tender estimate is in excess of €120 000 net of VAT. A number of Contracting Authorities manage their procurement requirements irrespective of the tender estimate (these are listed in Schedule 3 of the PPRs).
Calls are published in the Government Gazette (and if applicable, the Official Journal of the EU) with a typical deadline for submitting a tender of 52 days, which can be reduced to 40 days.
Participation in tendering is normally open to all persons from the EU countries, candidate countries or any other country stipulated in Article 68 of the PPRs.
The tender document provides all information and instructions relative to the tender administrative, technical and financial requirements, as well as indicating the selection and award criteria that will be applied.
Tenders are opened and scheduled in public (tenders published by the Department of Contracts are scheduled by the General Contracts Committee). Tenderers are normally bound by their tenders for 150 days after the deadline for the submission of offers. The Contracting Authority evaluates the offers received.
Recommendations in respect of tenders issued by Schedule 2 Contracting Authorities under the threshold of €120 000 are submitted to the respective Departmental Contracts Committee for endorsement. Contracting Authorities then publish the recommendations themselves.
When tenders are published through the Department of Contracts, the Contracting Authority submits its recommendations to the General Contracts Committee. The final decisions are made by the General Contracts Committee, which are made public twice a week.
Tenderers that do not agree with a decision may file an objection with the Public Contracts Review Board within ten days of the publication of the decision. In the case of tenders below the threshold of €120 000, the objection deadline is five days; above the threshold of €120 000, the deadline is of ten days.
Where no objection has been deposited, or after the decisions of the Public Contracts Review Board, the Department of Contracts (on behalf of the Contracting Authority), or the Contracting Authority itself (in case of departmental tenders), together with the recommended tenderer sign a contract.
Types of public contracts
There are three main categories of tenders leading to public contracts:
- Works tender - is for works, related to one of the activities referred to in Schedule 5 of the PPRs;
- Supply tender - covers the purchase, lease, rental or hire purchase of products;
- Service tender - is for the provision of services, listed in Schedules 6 and 7 of the PPRs.
The PPRs outlines the different thresholds governing the publishing of tenders, these include:
- where the estimated value does not exceed €2,500, the equipment, works or services may be procured from the open market at the discretion of the Head of Department;
- where the estimated value is between €2,500 and €6,000, procurement may take place after a call for tenders, after obtaining quotations, or direct from the open market, on approval of the Minister responsible for the department;
- purchases of the same or closely similar material in different lots during a period of six months shall not exceed a total value of €25,000;
- where the estimated value is between €6 000 and €120 000, the equipment, stores, works or services may be procured after a departmental call for tenders;
- all public contracts between €120 000 and the EU thresholds of €130 000 for service and supply tenders, and €45 000 000 for works tenders, may be procured after a call for tenders published in the Malta Government Gazette;
- public contracts whose estimated value is equal or greater than the EU thresholds can be procured after a call for tenders published in the Malta Gazette and the Official Journal of the European Union (OJEU).
National public procurement authorities
Department of Contracts
The Department of Contracts is the Central Government Authority, responsible for the publishing and general administration leading to the award of contracts valued over €120 000. Contracts below €120 000 are directly administered by the Contracting Authorities themselves.
General Contracts Committee
The General Contracts Committee is primarily responsible for providing advice to the Director General (Contracts) on all matters pertaining to public calls for tenders and the award of the relevant contracts. Duties include the opening of the tenders received at the Department of Contracts, and make definite recommendations for award in respect of tenders issued by the Department of Contracts over €120 000.
Departmental Contracts Committees
A Departmental Contracts Committee is set up within each Ministry, with the purpose of making definite recommendations for the award of public contracts whose value does not exceed €120 000.
Public Contracts Review Board
The Public Contracts Review Board deals with all complaints on public supply, public service or public works contracts valued at over €6 000.
There are two ways of submitting a tender. The single envelope system, whereby all documents, including the financial offer, are inserted in a single envelope/package, and the three-package procedure, used for tenders that exceed the estimated threshold of €2 000 000. The three-package procedure consists of three distinct packages:
- the first one must include the tender guarantee;
- the second one should contain the administrative and technical documentation, other supportive documents and any samples; and
- the third package should contain the price schedule and other commercial details.
The packages are opened in sequence and the final package, the financial package, is only opened after the Contracting Authority issues a formal recommendation indicating the offers were administratively and technically compliant.
Tenders must be submitted in English and received before the deadline specified in the notice/tender document. The Department of Contracts holds tender opening sessions every Tuesday and Thursday (excluding national/public holidays). Departments follow their respective internal procedures on the opening of tenders.
Where the estimated value exceeds €12 000 and is within €120 000, and is issued by a Contracting Authority listed in the PPRs, you may file a complaint with the Public Contracts Review Board in accordance with Regulation 21 of the PPRs, within 5 working days from the publication of the notice. The letter of objection must clearly set out the reason for the complaint, and be accompanied by a deposit. This is calculated in terms of Regulation 21(3) of the PPRs, and communicated by the Contracting Authority in its notification letter.
Where the estimated value exceeds €120 000, the provisions of Regulation 84 in respect of the procedure for appeals come into force. A Complaint may be filed with the Public Contracts Review Board within 10 working days from the receipt of the notification letter. The complaint must be accompanied by a deposit that shall not be less than €1 200 and not more than €58 000.
In both cases, the award process shall be completely suspended if an appeal is eventually submitted.
In both cases if an aggrieved bidder is not satisfied with the Decision of the Public Contracts Review Board, he has the possibility to submit a fresh appeal in front of the Court of Appeal (Inferior Jurisdiction). In respect to tenders whose estimated value does not exceed € 120 000 such appeal must be filed within sixty (60) days from the decision of the Public Contracts Review Board. While in the case of tenders whose estimated value exceeds € 120 000, the aggrieved bidder can submit an appeal in front of the Court of Appeal (Inferior Jurisdiction) within 20 days from the decision of the Public Contracts Review Board.
Transition to Electronic Procurement
Since June 2011 the Department of Contracts in liaison with the Malta Information Technology Agency, the Information Technology arm of the Government of Malta has embarked on the transition of e-procurement through the launch of an electronic platform, chiefly, the Electronic Public Procurement Systems (ePPS). In this regard, increasingly call for tenders are being issued as e-tenders where almost the complete procurement cycle from e-notices to e-award is carried out electronically. The Department of Contracts has set January 2013 as the target date for the complete transition from conventional to electronic procurement in respect of tenders which are published by the Department.
The Department of Contracts as Central Government Authority, publishes calls for tenders estimated over €120 000 on behalf of the Government of Malta. It launched its new Procurement Management System and website in January 2009. The website provides information on calls for tender and is aimed at all organisations, as well as the general public, which might be interested Malta's procurement activities.
Other Procurement Opportunities
Malta Information Technology Agency (MITA) is the central driver of Government’s Information and Communications Technology (ICT) policy, programmes and initiatives in Malta. Through its website, interested parties can access all information on ICT-related tenders issued by MITA.
The Foundation for Tomorrow's Schools is responsible for the construction, refurbishment, and maintenance of schools. Through its website, you can view information on current calls for tenders and quotations, download tender documents and keep tabs on the status of a tender procedure up to its award.
Enemalta Corporation operates in the energy sector and provides a service to prospective bidders to download tender documents online. Bidders are able to gain information on the tender prior to purchasing the tender document through a summary page linked to the tender.
The Water Services Corporation website displays information on current calls for tender (publishing and closing date, and the document fee), tender clarifications are also available for download.
The Government Health Procurement Services is responsible for the provision of good quality medicines, pharmaceutical preparations and medical devices. Tenders below the threshold of €120 000 are available electronically from their website.
The website of the Government Property Division (GPD) provides access to its Invitation To Tenders (ITT), both those in relation to the disposal of government immovable property and also those related to other services provided/required by the GPD.
The website of Transport Malta has a dedicated section on public procurement.
Maltese departments and entities are required to publish calls for tenders in the Malta Government Gazette, including quotations and departmental tenders valued less than €120 000. The Malta Government Gazette is available online in PDF format.
A number of other websites owned by public service and public sector organisations provide different levels of e-procurement services to prospective tenderers. These services vary from downloadable documents, to static information regarding the publication of a tender. Websites include: