This country-specific Q&A provides an overview of Public Procurement laws and regulations applicable in Qatar.
Please summarise briefly any relationship between the public procurement / government contracting laws in your jurisdiction and those of any supra-national body (such as WTO GPA, EU, UNCITRAL)
1A: At present, no supra-national body (including UNCITRAL (United Nations Commission On International Trade Law) and the GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council)) holds any ultimate power or authority to administer or monitor the procurement laws enacted in the State of Qatar. Qatar’s tender and procurement laws (see Question 2 for a description) were drafted with international procurement laws (such as the UNCITRAL Model Law on Public Procurement) in mind for the sake of best practice only.
What types of public procurement / government contracts are regulated in your jurisdiction and what procurement regimes apply to these types of procurements?
2A:The Tenders Law No. 24 of 2015 (as amended in 2018) (Tenders Law) and its Executive Regulation No. 16 of 2019 (Executive Regulations) are the main Qatari legislations governing public procurement and government contracts in the State of Qatar.
The Tenders Law shall be applicable to ministries and other government agencies, public bodies and institutions, except for the following entities who are exempt from the application of the Tenders Law and are explicitly referred to under Article 2 of said legislation. These exempted entities are listed as per the following: (i) the Armed forces, police and other military entities,with regard to contracts of confidential nature which are determined and regulated by the terms of their tenders and contracts by an Emiri Decree; (ii) Qatar Petroleum; (iii) QIA and (iv) any other entities issued by a Cabinet Decision upon the proposal of the Minister of Finance.
A new Public Private Partnership (PPP) Law No. 12 of 2020 was published on 31 May 2020 to regulate the operation of PPPs in Qatar. The new PPP law expressly makes it clear that the Qatar tenders law that applies to the procurement of capital works and services does not apply to PPP projects. Government procurement authorities and bidders need to comply with the PPP law during the tender process for PPP projects. The new PPP law recognizes two-staged tendering, restricted tendering, procurement by negotiation, competitive bidding, auction and direct award.
Are there specified financial thresholds at which public procurement regulation applies in your jurisdiction?
3A: The new regime with the present Tenders Law introduced decentralization of tender processes. The old regime required a central tenders committee along with a classification of contractors committee to administer all public tenders in the region which are above five million Qatari Riyals (5,000,000 QAR) in value. The members of the committee needed to include representatives from different administrations. They were required to receive tenders, study them and give appropriate recommendations to award contracts to best auctioneers. The new regime requires each government regulatory body to have its own tenders committee, so that they can oversee their own procurement requirements. It provides a detailed explanation of the functions carried out by the committee.
In relation to financial thresholds currently applicable, the Tenders Law do not provide any differentiation in that area.
Are procurement procedures below the value of the financial thresholds specified above subject to any regulation in your jurisdiction? If so, please summarise the position.
4A: Yes, all other tendering shall be subject to the Tenders Law and Executive Regulations and to the Tenders and Bids Committee. For complex contracts, when the technical specifications cannot be clearly set at the outset of the procurement, then the two-stage procurement process may be adopted by the procuring entity.
For the procurement of complex contracts*, how are contracts publicised? What publication or journal is used for these purposes?
5A: In terms of publication, the following applies:
Announcement of tender
The announcement of the public tender shall be made by electronic means and through publication in the newspapers by the concerned department. The invitation must be extended by mail, by fax, or through electronic means of communication, or by any other means that guarantees the arrival of the invitation, provided that the submission of bids is in sealed envelopes and delivered to the committee.
For the two-stage tender, the procuring entity shall announce the request for initial bidding not associated with setting prices, including technical proposals for the items, business contracts or services to be contracted for, as well as proposals related to contracting and supply conditions, and information on the competence and qualifications of the bidders, and the announcement must include standards evaluation of the initial bids submitted. The procuring entity shall evaluate the initial bids received in accordance with the standards and principles announced, after evaluating them and requesting any additional information or clarifications from the bidders, provided that the initial bids that do not comply with the mentioned criteria shall be excluded.
For restricted tenders, the procuring entity shall direct the invitation to the qualified companies through letters sent by mail, by fax, or through electronic means of communication, or by any other means that guarantees the arrival of the invitation, provided that the submission of bids is in sealed envelopes and delivered to the committee.
For matters of urgent nature that does not allow the time for a tender (Fast Tracked Practice), the procuring entity shall direct the invitation to at least three providers, by means of letters sent by mail, by fax, by electronic means of communication, or by any other means that guarantees the arrival of the invitation, and the invitation includes all the data required mentioned in the announcement of the public tender.
Announcement of award
Upon award, the procuring entity shall notify the successful tenderer of the award, within seven working days from the date of announcing the decision of the award. The decision shall be announced on the State’s procurement website, with successful bidders to be notified separately. Subsequently, the successful tenderer will be notified to submit the performance bond within ten working days from the day following the award notice and to sign the contract within the period stated therein.
For the procurement of complex contracts, where there is an initial selection stage before invitation to tender documents are issued, what are typical grounds for the selection of bidders?
6A: Pre-qualification of bidders will generally depend on the following:
1- Technical experience in the works subject of the tender.
2- Number and qualifications of the technical and administrative staff.
3- The value of the projects that the bidder has previously implemented.
4- Existing licenses to practice works of a specialized nature.
5- Financial ability through an audited budget.
6- Any data or information that the government entity sees its request.
There is no distinction in terms of the methodology between different regulated utilities.
Does your jurisdiction mandate that certain bidders are excluded from tendering procedures (e.g. those with convictions for bribery)? If so what are those grounds of mandatory exclusion?
7A: There are no express provisions on the pre-award process, however this would have a material adverse effect on the technical qualification. It is further stated on the post-award period that, in the event that it is discovered that the bidder is proven to have committed fraud to win the contract or bribery of a public official, that the contract shall be terminated for that reason.
Please describe a typical procurement procedure for a complex contract. Please summarise the rules that are applicable in such procedures.
8A:The various processes differ based on the type of the tender. Below is a brief summary of each:
(a) Public Tender: This is the main process for public procurement and involves invitation to the public to obtain best offer. The tender should be subject to the principles of justice, publicity, equality, arms length, freedom of competition, transparency and value for money.
(b) As an exception, the governmental entity may, by decision of its president and recommendation of its committee, opt to use one of the following processes:
A two-stage tender, where the Government entity is not able to provide detailed specifications of the works required. It involves the submission of a technical proposal representing a non-priced tender outlining the general technical aspects of the proposal and a commercial proposal, which includes the price and other financial information related to relevant services to be provided.
A restricted tender, where participation is restricted to a group of pre-registered companies or companies qualified for the tender (process same as under the previous regime).
Fast Tracked Practice, whereby in urgent circumstances, and with respect to works of minor value, the fast tracked procurement process would be limited to offers from at least three providers who have the ability to provide the requested service (process same as under the previous regime).
Competitive bidding, whereby a project is advertised for the purpose of creating competition to attract offers or designs.
Direct bidding with service provider, where the works must be completed urgently and tender/fast-tracked practice process would not be appropriate in the given circumstances.
(c) In addition, the Tenders Law introduced the possibility for the governmental entity to enter into a framework agreement with a service provider. This is namely in the event where the entity is repetitively acquiring products, works or services or in the event it is not possible to determine in advance the quantity or size of such products, works or services. The framework agreement is stated to be an agreement whereby the contractor is obliged to provide certain products or perform certain works or services upon request from the governmental entity, at the prices agreed in the contract, which shall be fixed for the term of the contract. The framework agreement is required to be tendered through either a public or restricted tender or through practice.
If different from the approach for a complex contract, please describe how a relatively low value contract would be procured?
9A: See our answers in 8.A above. In addition, a Cabinet Decision No. 22 of 2019 was issued regarding the possibility of procurement by fast-track practice or direct contracting without the obligation to submit the tender to the Tenders and Bids Committee, provided that the value of such procurement does not exceed the limit indicated for each procuring entity as per the below table:
Public Works Authority
Qatar General Electricity and Water Corporation
Other entities subject to the Tenders Law
What is seen as current best practice in terms of the processes to be adopted over and above ensuring compliance with the relevant regime, taking into account the nature of the procurement concerned?
10A: We would typically see competitive procurements with tenderers who have been shortlisted and have been pre-qualified. Procuring authorities in Qatar will always seek to achieve value for money against their technical requirements.
Please explain any rules which are specifically applicable to the evaluation of bids.
11A: In cases where the technical nature requires evaluation of bids with a points system, the conditions of the offering must include the elements and principles of the evaluation, the determination of the evaluation points and the minimum technical acceptance of the tenderer, after approval by the committee, and the most important of these elements are the following:
Duration of experience in the field to be implemented.
Technical and administrative personnel working for the bidder on a permanent basis.
Projects that have been successfully implemented, and the value of the highest project.
Licenses to practice works of a specialized nature.
The financial ability of the bidder through an audited budget.
The equipment, machinery and devices available to the bidder, which are necessary for the completion of the required work.
Any data or information that the government entity deems necessary.
The procuring entity, in coordination with the requesting department, shall establish points for each component according to the nature and importance of the tender.
The award will be made on the lowest bid, which meets the minimum technical acceptance.
The points’ evaluation system may be based on the calculation of common points for both technical and financial acceptance, and in this case the award will be made on the bid with the highest points in the joint evaluation, regardless of the price offered by it.
When studying and evaluating bids, the procuring entity shall take into account the following:
Assigning at least two of its employees or of the requesting administration’s employees, in the event of the tender to be launched under the two-envelope system, to prepare the technical study of the bids submitted for the tender, in coordination with the requesting administration.
Complete all necessary data and documents to complete the study, within the period specified by the committee in the referral letter, provided that it does not exceed half of the validity period of the bid, taking into account that all correspondence and responses received in this regard should be attached to the study.
Refrain from contacting bidders, except for the purpose of obtaining the necessary clarifications and confirmations regarding the bids submitted by them, or to request information or documents, without modification or change in the conditions and specifications, on the basis of which the offer was made, as well as the prices mentioned in the bids submitted.
Stating any opinions, reservations or conditions that the bidder may include in the bid.
The study of bids should be clear and complete with all the required technical elements, and should include a detailed statement of the reasons on which it relied on issuing its recommendation, and not content with general terms such as “non-conformity”, “unacceptable” or “violating”.
In the case of following the method of evaluating bids using points and percentages, the basis for applying this method must be explained, and these principles and ratios are fully taken into account and applied to all bidders when preparing their studies.
Adherence to the rules of preference established for national products, in accordance with the legislation issued in this regard.
Please describe any rights that unsuccessful bidders have that enable them to receive the reasons for their score and (where applicable in your jurisdiction) the reasons for the score of the winning bidder.
12A The decisions regarding the acceptance, exclusion, awarding of bids, or the cancellation of the tender shall be announced on the unified website of the state procurement, and the bidders must be notified of the reasons for these decisions at their addresses stated in the bid.
What remedies are available to unsuccessful bidders in your jurisdiction?
13A: There are no express rights for remedy.
Are public procurement law challenges common in your jurisdiction?
14A: Public procurement challenges are exceptionally rare in Qatar. The Tenders Law does not expressly provide legal remedies for bidders that wish to challenge the procurement process. In Qatar, unlike European jurisdictions, a bidder would not typically take legal action in the courts against a procuring entity if they are not satisfied with the outcome of the tendering process. This may be due to a number of factors, including the risk of harm to a tenderer’s prospects for future procurement competitions and the uncertainty of the outcome if the tender took legal action in the courts.
Typically, assuming a dispute concerns a complex contract, how long would it take for a procurement dispute to be resolved in your jurisdiction (assuming neither party is willing to settle its case).
15A: This is not applicable.
What rights/remedies are given to bidders that are based outside your jurisdiction?
16A: Not applicable in terms of remedies / rights to unsuccessful bidders.
Where an overseas-based bidder has a subsidiary in your territory, what are the applicable rules which determine whether a bid from that bidder would be given guaranteed access to bid for the contract?
17A: There are no express rules that are applicable in this respect.
In your jurisdiction is there a specialist court or tribunal with responsibility for dealing with public procurement issues?
18A: The Administrative Courts in Qatar have jurisdiction over disputes arising out of administrative contracts. To our knowledge, there are no precedents on the Administrative Court looking into public procurement claims.
Are post-award contract amendments/variations to publically procured, regulation contracts subject to regulation in your jurisdiction?
19A: Variations post-award are acceptable, provided they do not exceed a percentage of (20%) twenty percent of the contract value or duration. Generally, variations must satisfy substantive thresholds, including the necessity of the variation and the available budget/public funds. In addition, variations must follow certain procedural requirements, including express approval of the government entity.
19B: Changes to the supplier post-award would trigger the requirement of approval of the government entity.
How common are direct awards for complex contracts (contract awards without any prior publication or competition)?
20A: Complex contracts are not commonly awarded directly unless in very specific and specialised sectors.
20B: Direct contracts may be awarded in a direct process, in the following cases:
If the required items, business contracts, or services are not available except from a single source.
If business contracts, items, or services are required on a trial basis.
If it is necessary to test the required varieties and purchase them from their country of origin, due to their distinct or monopolistic nature.When advertising, publishing, subscribing to newspapers, magazines, periodicals and other means of advertising, and buying books and scientific and cultural references necessary for the government agency.
Businesses or services of an artistic, cultural or creative nature, or related to marketing services.
When contracting by direct agreement in urgent cases, the Tenders and Bids Committee decision must be issued with the consensus of its members present.
20C There are no express provisions that allow challenging such decision.
Have your public procurement rules been sufficiently flexible to allow contracting authorities to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic? What measures have been most used and in what areas have any difficulties arisen? Is it likely that lessons learned from procurement during this period will give rise to longer term changes?
21A: To the best of our knowledge, the public procurement rules in Qatar are flexible enough to allow procuring authorities to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. In respect of infrastructure and energy projects, we have seen procuring authorities revisit their standard terms and conditions. In particular, we have seen procuring authorities review, and in some cases, revise their force majeure clauses to deal with the COVID-19 and its consequences.
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