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Exceptional Measures to Facilitate Public Procurement in the Health Sector in Portugal

Go, go, go! Portugal has approved exceptional and temporary measures in the context of the Coronavirus – COVID 19, which include exceptional rules for Public Procurement aimed at the Health Sector.

What is this about?

It is all about simplifying and speeding-up the procedures associated to the purchases that are needed in response to the COVID-19 disease. Direct awarding of contracts is generally authorised, and the threshold for simplified direct awarding of contracts is raised to €20.000,00, with derogations on the repeated direct awarding to a specific supplier.

What is it for?

The procedures for awarding of public contracts aimed at satisfying the specific needs of the awarding entities in relation to prevention, containment, mitigation and treatment of the COVID-19 disease, as well as the return to a normal life following such epidemy, are all comprised in this exceptional regime.

Purchase of goods & services and execution of works are typical situations to which this exceptional regime can apply.

Who can use it?

State companies, State administration and, with some adjustments, local municipalities can resort to this exceptional regime. Public hospitals, the Ministry of Health, the Regional Health Administration and others are therefore included.

Can awarding entities make advance payments to contracted parties?

Awarding entities may make advance payments on account of future deliveries or on account of preparatory or accessory acts, without the limitations normally in place (e.g. the 30% of the purchase price limitation).

Can awarding entities make purchases outside of mandatory framework contracts?

Normally the entities that are part of the National System of Public Purchase have to make their purchases in the context of centralized framework agreements where those centralized framework agreements exist, a Governmental authorisation being required for those entities to release themselves from such obligation. This requirement to ask for prior authorisation seems to have been set aside, meaning that the purchasing entities appear to be free to release themselves from their framework agreements.

Do these contracts need to meet publicity requirements before entering into force?

The awarded contracts can produce their effects immediately, publicizing being done subsequently.

Are these contracts subject to prior screening from the Court of Audits?

No, the contracts encompassed by this exceptional regime shall produce their effects immediately, including as regards payments, with no need for prior screening by the Court of Auditors.

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