The government has announced the "unification of public procurements" when the only modification from the previous situation is the change of name and the logo for "Mer-Link" to "SICOP", while keeping the CompraRed system in operation.
In a "Solomonic" decision, the Ministry of Finance has decided to settle the dispute between CompraRed and Merlink, ordering the development of a new platform, giving the moribund state telecom company RACSA something to do.
The government of Costa Rica has still not been able to establish a single system for state purchases, while the battle continues between the individual interests of the supporters of each of the two systems currently in operation.
The struggle between the two main systems used for Costa Rican government purchases could end with Mer-Link being the winner.
From a press release issued by the President of Costa Rica:
In order to facilitate the establishment of a National System of Public Procurement, the president of the Republic, Laura Chinchilla Miranda, signed this morning a guideline for all the institutions which make up the Civil Service to unify their methods of procuring goods and services.
Mer-Link, a system that handles 80% of government purchases, is not able to grant awards because of a legal action brought by the competing system CompraRed, which is also state run.
Hundreds of purchases involving amounts of millions of dollars and which are vital for state agencies such as the Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad, the University of Costa Rica and the National Insurance Institute, have been paralyzed.
It is estimated that it will save 76% in administrative costs and between 5% and 15% in prices.
The finance minister, Guillermo Zúñiga "emphasized the transparency and effectiveness of the system because each of the framework agreements is done through public tenders and because you can choose what you need through an electronic catalog where suppliers and their products have already been analyzed."
Various government authorities are promoting three different system in efforts that seem to be heading in conflicting directions.
The drive to become the platform for directing all public purchases is increasing.
There is now the possibility that the purchasing system of the ICE (Costa RicaInstitute of Electricity) will become the base for ordering public acquisitions and evolve to the electronic phase, which is already being disputed by CompraRed and Crcompr@s.
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