Public purchases in a state of emergency

public-purchases-in-a-state-of-emergency-ricardo-mancheno-lawyers-ecuador

By Ministerial Agreement No. 00126-2020 of March 11, 2020, the Ministry of Health declared a state of sanitary emergency in Ecuador due to the COVID-19 virus pandemic. Subsequently, by Executive Decree No. 1017 of March 16, 2020, the President of the Republic declared a state of emergency throughout the national territory. Consequently, various resolutions and administrative provisions have been established to regulate public management and the relations between the Public Administration and those administered.

In this context, the National Public Procurement Service – SERCOP issued the regulations applicable to the state of exception and emergency, in order to coordinate actions to fulfill its purposes and, in particular, guarantee the rights of suppliers to avoid discretion of contracting entities during public procurement processes due to emergencies.

The following is a summary of the regulations issued by SERCOP:

  • Memorandum No. SERCOP-SERCOP-2020-0012-C of March 16, 2020 contains the following recommendations for suppliers and contracting entities:
    • Procurement will be prioritized to guarantee the normal operation of public services and emergency procurement. Special service stations with health safety measures are established to receive offers.
    • In the case of non-priority procedures, it is recommended to cancel or declare them void, depending on the status of the procedure.
    • In the absence of conditions to carry out the pre-contractual stage of planned procurement procedures, entities are encouraged not to publish them.
    • If there are contracts in the contractual execution stage, the administrator must fully comply with the functions established in the respective contracts.
    • Although recommendations do not include it, the legal provisions on unforeseen events and force majeure are applicable to public contracts. The act of authority that declared the state of emergency in the territory of Ecuador, which suppressed and limited the rights of people, among them economic operations and activities and mobility, except in certain excepted cases, constitutes an event of force majeure. These acts of authority are spearheaded by Executive Decree 1017 but include others such as Ministerial Agreement 126-2020, which establishes the health emergency and the constant provisions of the National Emergency Operations Committee (“COE”). In turn, these force majeure events originate from an unforeseen event and its effects, which go beyond the decreed state of emergency, such as the COVID-19 virus declared by the World Health Organization as a pandemic, which has also been ratified by the government of Ecuador. These events constitute extraordinary and irresistible unforeseen events, which have placed the population of Ecuador (and the world) in an emergency situation, making it impossible for the normal development of the usual commercial and productive activities of the public and private. Likewise, they have placed current obstacles to the execution of contractual relationships, which clearly exceed the control and predictability of the parties, and which could be alleged as long as they generate real and verifiable effects with the purpose of exempting the fulfillment of contractual obligations or the termination of contracts according to each case.
    • SERCOP guarantees service for procedures, claims and complaints through telematic means. Face-to-face trainings will be rescheduled.
  • Memorandum No. SERCOP-SERCOP-2020-0013-C of March 17, 2020 establishes the guidelines for submission of offers during the health emergency, and provides that contracting entities in the different contractual procedures, in a compulsory way, will indicate in the field of observations in the form, that the offers and validations can be received by the following means: physical, Courier (regular mail) or email, also indicating in the form the institutional mailing address to receive them.
  • Resolutions Nos. RE-SERCOP-2020-0104 of March 19, 2020 and RE-SERCOP-2020-0105 of April 6, 2020, which reform Resolution No. RE-SERCOP-2016-0000072, of August 31 2016, which contains the Codification and update of resolutions issued by SERCOP. These resolutions, the main aspects of which are listed below, should apply to contracts in an emergency as of March 20, 2020:
    • The contracting entity must expressly declare that there is an impossibility to carry out common procedures to overcome the emergency situation, qualifying this situation through a motivated administrative act that must be published on the PUBLIC PURCHASES Portal, and that will constitute a requirement which enables to continue with the emergency contracts.
    • The term of the emergency declaration may not be greater than 60 days unless a new Executive Decree is issued extending the state of exception.
    • For the procurement of works, goods or services in emergency situations, including consultancy, a direct and objective relationship must be verified between the emergency situation and the urgency of carrying out a procurement procedure to supply a current and emergency need that has arisen as a result of the aforementioned situation. For all emergency procurement, prior certification of budget availability will be necessary.
    • Emergency purchase will be made through a selection of suppliers in an agile, fast, transparent, and simple way, seeking to obtain the best costs. For this purpose, the entity or central governing body may consolidate the demand of all bodies or entities of any nature to carry out a single selection procedure.
    • In emergency procurement for the acquisition of drugs, medical devices or supplies, biochemical or diagnostic reagents, and other strategic goods in health, or the provision of health services or funeral; The analysis of the market offer will be considered fulfilled when the contracting entities publish their contracting needs on their institutional website; and, based on the proposals they receive, select the ones that best suit institutional interests. For these contracts, the supply and demand that exists on the market at that date will be considered as an indispensable parameter.
    • In emergency procurement carried out directly by the contracting entity (acquisition of goods abroad), verification of the absence of national production or supply will not be required, nor will import authorization by SERCOP.
    • All contracts, purchase orders or invoices generated within the framework of the emergency declaration must be done in writing through physical or electronic means. Contracting entities may improve the instruments using transmission of data messages in accordance with the provisions of the Electronic Commerce, Electronic Signatures and Data Messages Act. When in emergency contracts is impossible to access to notarial services, the contracting entity, in an exceptional and provisional manner, will endorse with administrative officials those enabling documents necessary for the signing of the contracts. The establishment of consortiums by private means will be allowed, which will be formalized by public deed once the notarial services have been restored. The contracts that by provision of the law require to be protocolized will be executed from their subscription and will be protocolized later. Currently, some notaries may protocolize these contracts.
    • For contracts in an emergency, SERCOP may, at any time, initiate the necessary control actions to guarantee compliance with the issued regulations.
    • The norms that regulate the temporary association to make corporate purchases between contracting entities will not be applicable to cases of centralized (corporate) purchases of emergency.
    • In the event of emergency declarations issued and published by the contracting entities until before the validity of the Resolutions, they will be forced to comply with and adapt to their provisions.
  • Memo No. SERCOP-SERCOP-2020-0014-C of March 26, 2020 reiterates, within the framework of the regulations issued by the state of emergency and health emergency, the obligation of the contracting entities to implement electronic signature in public procurement procedures; which will allow the opening of a new way of communication with citizens in a more agile way and will reduce the processing time of the procurement procedure, safeguarding and guaranteeing the safety of citizens.

Additionally, SERCOP maintains on its website an updated list of products and services needs in the state of emergency along with delivery conditions. They can be found in the following link:

https://www.compraspublicas.gob.ec/ProcesoContratacion/compras/EMG/EmgRegistros.cpe

It is essential that SERCOP efficiently apply in practice the provisions of the regulations issued and carry out the necessary control management for its effective compliance.

Ricardo Mancheno
Senior Associate at CorralRosales
rmancheno@corralrosales.com

State of health emergency – MPH

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The Ministry of Public Health, through agreement 00024-2020, dated June 16th, 2020, has extended the state of health emergency previously declared, in all establishments of the National Health System, which includes all laboratory services, epidemiology and control units, air ambulances, medical and paramedical services, hospitalization and outpatient care, due to transmission of COVID-19 in all provinces and the possible need for hospitalization or intensive care.

Furthermore, the Ministry of Public Health:

  1. Ordered that the health establishments belonging to the Integral Public Health Network, to prioritize their economic resources and human talent, and take the measures that they deem necessary to address the health emergency while the declaration is in effect.
  2. Ordered that the National Agency for Sanitary Regulation, Control and Surveillance (ARCSA) to update the regulations regarding the national production of medicine and medical devices necessary for emergency care and, in turn, to prioritize attention to the regulatory processes under way.
  3. Issued guidelines for purchases made by the Central and the Decentralized Operational Entities of the Ministry of Public Health to attend the health emergency.
  4. Prohibited all private health insurance companies and prepaid medicine companies from limiting coverage for the proper assessment, care, and treatment of patients affected by COVID-19.

The declaration of the state of health emergency will be in force until August 13th of this year. It may be extended if it is necessary.

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State of emergency – tax measures (April 1st)

state-of-emergency-tax-measures

Regulation NAC-DGERCGC20-000000025 issued by the Internal Revenue Service on April 1, 2020 regulates the application of Executive Decree 1021 by which regulated certain tax issues with regard to the state of emergency.

1. New deadline for filing the income tax return

Taxpayers, except non-profit and government entities, may file the corporate income tax return for the fiscal year 2019, without generating fines or interest, until the dates described in the following chart:

Tax ID 9th digit

Due date

1 and 2 April 15, 2020
3 and 4 April 17, 2020
5 and 6 April 21, 2020
7 April 23, 2020
8 and 9 April 29, 2020
0 April 30, 2020

Non-profit and government entities may file the corporate income tax return for the fiscal year 2019, without generating fines or interest, until the dates described in the following chart:

Tax ID 9th digit

Due date

1 and 2 May 4, 2020
3 and 4 May 5, 2020
5 and 6 May 6, 2020
7 and 8 May 7, 2020
9 and 0 May 8, 2020

2. Taxpayers that are able to defer the payment of taxes:

The following taxpayers are able to defer the payment of corporate income tax of the fiscal year 2019 and, value added tax (VAT) to be declared in April, May and June 2020:

  • Micro-enterprises understood as those that obtained gross revenues of up to US$300,000.00 during fiscal year 2019.
  • Taxpayers that, before March 27, 2020, have registered the province of Galapagos in their Tax ID (RUC).
  • Taxpayers that are regular exporters of goods, or that 50% of their income derives from the export of goods; or,
  • Taxpayers that, before March 27, 2020, have registered one of the following as their main economic activity in their Tax ID:
    • The operation of airlines,
    • The provision of accommodation and/or food services; or,
    • Activities of the agricultural sector.

 

3. Deadlines for paying the corporate income tax:

Taxpayers described in paragraph 2 are able to pay the corporate income tax of the fiscal year 2019 in a single installment, according to the general rules of the Income Tax Regime Law and its regulations, or in six installments, in accordance with the following percentages:

Month for filing
the tax return 
Payment
installments 

Payment
percentage

April, 2020 April, 2020 10%
April, 2020 May, 2020 10%
April, 2020 June, 2020 20%
April, 2020 July, 2020 20%
April, 2020 August, 2020 20%
April, 2020 September, 2020 20%

The first installment shall be paid on the date the return is due in accordance with the schedule set forth in paragraph 1. The remaining 5 installments shall be made through the Multiple Payment Form in accordance with the following schedule:

Tax ID 9th digit:

Due date:

1 10th of each month
2 12th of each month
3 14th of each month
4 16th of each month
5 18th of each month
6 20th of each month
7 22th of each month
8 24th of each month
9 26th of each month
0 28th of each month

If the taxpayer doesn’t pay the tax within the deadlines described before, it would be subject to pay the applicable interests and fines.

 

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State of emergency – tax measures

state-of-emergency-tax-measures

By Executive Decree 1021 issued on March 27, 2020, the President of Ecuador, adopted the following tax measures within the state of emergency:

1. Income tax withholding:

The following entities will be required to withhold and pay on a monthly basis income tax over their total taxable income obtained in each month:

Entity activity 

Monthly income tax withholding rate (%)

Financial institutions under the supervision of the Superintendency of Banks and entities that provide mobile telephone services. 1,75%
Entities that have entered into contracts with the Goverment for the exploration and exploitation of hydrocarbons under any modality or, contracts for specific works and services under the Hydrocarbons Law or, complementary petroleum services as well as transportation of crude oil. 1,5%

The withholding tax receipt must be issued in the name of the withholding agent and the value withheld will be consider as tax credit for paying the withholding agent’s income tax.

2. Tax payment deadlines:

For this time only, the taxpayers who at this date are considered as:

  • Micro-enterprises;
  • Those domiciled in Galapagos Islands;
  • Those who are regular exporters of goods, or that 50% of their income derived from the export of goods; or,
  • Those whose economic activity is:
    1. The operation of airlines,
    2. The tourism sector, exclusively those that provide accommodation and/or food services; or,
    3. The agricultural sector.

Will be able to pay the corporate income tax for the fiscal year 2019 and the value added tax (VAT) to be paid in April, May and June 2020 as follows:

  1. Payments will be made in 6 installments during the year 2020 in the following percentages: in each of the first two months, the taxpayers are required to pay 10% of the total value; and, in each of the remaining four months, taxpayers are required to pay 20% of the total value.
  2. These payments will be made according to the ninth digit of Tax ID as follows:
Ninth Digit of Tax ID 

Payment Date

1 10th of each month
2 12th of each month
3 14th of each month
4 16th of each month
5 18th of each month
6 20th of each month
7 22nd of each month
8 24th of each month
9 26th of each month
0 28th of each month

Taxpayers domiciled in the province of Galapagos are able to make the payment until the 28th of each month..

If a payment deadline overlaps with a mandatory rest day or holiday, the deadline shall be the next working day unless that day falls on the following month, in which case the payment deadline shall be anticipated to the last working day of the month.

If the taxpayer makes the payment after the deadlines have expired, he must pay the respective interest and fines in addition to the tax

  1. The payment of 2019 corporate income tax for the entities described above, will be made from April to September 2020 in the percentages and terms indicated in numbers 1 and 2 of this document.
  2. The payment of VAT for the months of April, May and June 2020 will be made in the percentages and terms described above, in the following months:
VAT to be paid in the month of

Months of Payment:

April 2020 From April to September, 2020
May 2020 From May to October, 2020
June 2020 From June to November, 2020
  1. Taxpayers subject to the Micro-enterprise Taxation Regime shall file their VAT return on a semi-annual basis. These taxpayers will not be subject to the exception regime detailed above.

 

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