Once again, one of the largest mobile providers in Latvia – Tele2 – has publicly drawn attention to, in the company's opinion, inappropriate requirements in public procurement. This time the company is turning against the Ministry of Health, whose contest Tele2 refuses to participate in. However, it is not only one specific case: there are many public procurements, said the company. Another market participant – Bite Latvia – expressed an almost identical view.
“What we are observing in public procurement is that the commissioning party has included such criteria in the assessment that we see immediately which of the applicants could win this procurement,” said Una Ahuna-Ozola, head of corporate and public relations at Bite Latvia.
“The competition is being killed. Here we all know that if competition is killed, what is happening? The prices are rising and we all pay for it, taxpayers,” said Raivo Rosts, commercial director of Tele2.
The mobile market is not extensive in Latvia – there is only one big player apart from Bite and Tele2, and it is Latvijas Mobilais telefons (LMT).
According to the competitors, it is this company that essentially controls the sphere of public procurement. Main objection: eligibility requirements for certain criteria. The major debate is on whether the number of base stations should be taken into account in the procurement.
“The number of base stations, which is clearly not a key parameter in today's technology, [supposedly] says whether it is a quality network or not,” Rosts said.
LMT, which has the most such base stations among operators in Latvia, has a different view.
“The number of base stations in the distribution according to the radio frequency range emitted is the only objective comparable and third-party verifiable parameter affecting the availability of mobile communications,” LMT said in a written response.
In order to address the situation, the Ministry of Transport, in cooperation with other institutions, developed guidelines to take into account in such procurements.
In particular, it has been pointed out that this factor does not clearly provide a better quality of service. However, it may be included in invitations to tender, but only if it has objective justification. The invitation to comply with these recommendations was also recently distributed by the Competition Council (KP).
It is not likely that the situation will be solved easily. The opposing parties will soon sit down at a discussion table. The conversation between industry and other stakeholders on the subject is expected in mid-May.