|Year of assessment: 2019-2020|
|Procurement value: Approx. € 3,104,000,000 (2019), at central level of government|
Lebanon faces a confluence of challenges, including an influx of refugees, an outflow of high-skilled workers, an increasing internal and external debt, and weak capacities within public institutions.
Austerity measures, failed public services, and widespread corruption triggered countrywide unrest in Lebanon as of 2019. A protracted economic crisis followed, characterized by deep and long growth stagnation, rapid currency depreciation, hyperinflation and steeply increasing budget.
The Beirut Port Explosion on August 4, 2020 resulted in even more pressure on the macro-fiscal and socio-economic situations in time of compounded crises.
As part of a concerted effort to address these challenges, a MAPS assessment was seen as a crucial foundation for the public procurement reform that the Government of Lebanon committed to at the “Conférence économique pour le développement, par les réformes et avec les entreprises” (CEDRE) in 2018 to improve fiscal governance, encourage investment inflows, strengthen accountability and transparency, and enhance trust of the international community. The international community welcomed this national commitment to reform.
In 1994, a Country Procurement Assessment (CPAR) for Lebanon was conducted by the World Bank, but since then no comprehensive assessment of the procurement systems was done. This led to a knowledge gap regarding the strengths and weaknesses of the Lebanese public procurement system, and the absence of a reliable baseline for monitoring and evaluation. MAPS provided a comprehensive framework for addressing this knowledge gap.
The Ministry of Finance mandated the Institute of Finance Basil Fuleihan to solicit the technical assistance of the World Bank to conduct a full MAPS assessment. The assessment was conducted with the support of the Global Procurement Partnership-Multi-Donor Trust Fund (GPP MDTF).
Lebanon had an outdated and fragmented public procurement system with capacity and technology gaps, resulting in inefficiencies and high risks of corruption. The previous legal framework was old (1959/1963), fragmented, did not conform with international standards and guidelines, and was not aligned with the provisions related to public procurement in international agreements of which Lebanon is a member. The institutional framework was weak with overlapping mandates and gaps in stakeholders’ roles. The policy and regulatory functions of the system were non-existent, and the complaints review mechanism was inefficient. The links between public procurement and other aspects of public financial management were ineffective.
|Lebanon’s MAPS assessment was carried out between 2019 and 2020. The report received the MAPS Seal of Approval and was published in February 2022.
In addition to primary and secondary legislation used, the assessment team compiled and reviewed relevant national and international documentation, held working meetings with the Assessment Steering Committee composed of 18 representatives from 15 government institutions, and stakeholders’ group to collect needed input, and carried out an enterprise survey to complement the analysis.
More than 100 stakeholders from the public sector (representatives of line ministries, public institutions, utilities, oversight bodies, municipalities, and unions), business associations and civil society organizations were involved and consulted throughout the assessment.
The assessment was conducted at a time Lebanon was facing transformative events. It was suspended between October and November 2019 due to large civil protests as of October 17, 2019, and again in February 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak, which delayed some assessment activities and lead the assessment team to adapt to the situation through the use of virtual means for validation of findings and report completion.
Lebanon’s experience with the MAPS assessment showed that MAPS can be leveraged as an evidence-based policy tool to form a shared national vision to reforming the procurement system, thus ensuring endorsement and ownership by all concerned stakeholders.
It is of utmost importance to ground the assessment in national institutional dynamics in the light of an analysis of procurement stakeholders’ mandates. National governments and international partners should not underestimate the needed time, efforts, and resources to complete the assessment as per the methodology requirements while customizing the implementation to the national contexts.
Maintaining high-level political commitment and stakeholders’ engagement is key to advance and sustain the reform process and capitalize on the findings of the assessment.
“Since its inception, the public procurement reform path was based on an international assessment methodology – MAPS – that lead to the adoption of the Public Procurement Law No. 244/2021. The process proved that reforms are possible to meet the interests of citizens and the economy. The political will shall be combined with specialization and commitment to international standards and openness to global lessons learnt and to sustained partnerships.”
Najib Mikati, President of the Council of Ministers
“We set the foundation despite limited resources. We relied on the competent people in our administration and the leadership of the Institut des Finances Basil Fuleihan, in consultation withrepresentatives of civil society and the private sector who were our true partners. Thanks to the technical advice of the World Bank, the French Development Agency, and the OECD-SIGMA, we were able to complete the MAPS assessment and propose a modern law that was approved by the Parliament.”
Youssef El Khalil, Minister of Finance
“The assessment provided, for the first time in Lebanon, evidence on the level of performance of its public procurement system. It was needed to help reformers think beyond the regulatory aspect of reforming procurement but rather adopt a whole-of-government. The solid consultative approach made the assessment inclusive and led to grounded findings. The technical support and advice from our partners facilitated the exchange of experiences and transfer of knowledge and helped Lebanon in formulating a clear reform roadmap.”
Lamia Moubayed Bissat, President, Institut des Finances Basil Fuleihan – MAPS National Focal Point
“Public procurement reform is a prerequisite for addressing the deepening economic and financial crisis in Lebanon, to strengthen governance and accountability, and establish confidence in government institutions. The World Bank, the French Development Agency and the OECD have joined forces to support Lebanon in carrying out the MAPS assessment. Now, there is a need for a very strong coordination of efforts in funding the priorities in the implementation of the national strategy for procurement reform.”
Saroj Kumar Jha, Director of the Mashreq Department, World Bank at the Launching Ceremony of the National Strategy for Public Procurement Reform, Grand Serail – Beirut, January 20, 2022
“France will continue to support public procurement reform, and I hope that the launching of the national strategy for procurement reform marks the beginning of collaborative efforts to foster transparency highly required by the citizens of Lebanon.”
Francois de Ricolfis, Head of the Regional Economic Section, Embassy of France in Lebanon at the Launching Ceremony of the National Strategy for Public Procurement Reform, Grand Serail – Beirut, January 20, 2022