REQUEST FOR APPLICATIONS (RFA)

FOR THE PROJECT TO ORGANIZE THE FORUM ON CAPITAL MARKET IN SERBIA

Issuance Date: February 14, 2012
Deadline for Receipt of Questions: February 22, 2012 by 6 p.m. CET
Closing Date/Time for Submission of Applications: February 29, 2012 by 6 p.m. CET

SUBJECT: Request for Applications (RFA) Number: RFA-2012-01

The USAID Business Enabling Project in Serbia (Project), a United States Agency for International Development (USAID)-funded contract implemented by Cardno Emerging Markets USA, Ltd., is seeking applications from qualified, legally registered Serbian non-profit, for-profit, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) for a grant to organize a professional forum on capital market development in Serbia.

The Successful Applicant will be responsible for ensuring achievement of specified grant objectives.

This RFA consists of the following sections:

  • Section 1 – Funding Opportunity Description
  • Section 2 – Award Information
  • Section 3 – Eligibility Information
  • Section 4 – Application and Submission Information
  • Section 5 – Application Review Information
  • Section 6 – Award and Administration Information
  • Section 7 – Annexes

Pursuant to 22 CFR 226.81, it is USAID policy not to award profit under assistance instruments. However, all reasonable, allocable and allowable expenses, both direct and indirect, which are related to the grant activity and are in accordance with applicable cost standards (22 CFR 226, OMB Circular A-122 for non-profit organizations, the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) Part 31 for for-profit organizations, and OMB Circular A-21 for educational institutions), may be paid under the Award.

Subject to the availability of funds, the Project intends to provide up to 1,700,000 RSD (Serbian dinars) in total funding to be allocated over a three month period.

The Project reserves the right to fund any or none of the applications submitted. Issuance of this RFA does not constitute an award commitment on the part of the Project, nor does it commit the Project to pay for costs incurred in the preparation and submission of an application. Further, the Project reserves the right to reject any or all applications received if such action is considered to be in the best interest of the US Government. Applications are submitted at the risk of the Applicant; should circumstances prevent making an award, all preparation and submission costs are at the Applicant’s expense.

Applicants should submit any questions concerning this RFA in writing, electronically, via email to grants@bep.rs. The deadline for receipt of requests for clarifications/explanations is February 22, 2012, by is 18:00 hours Local Belgrade Time. No questions will be accepted after this date.

Applicants should submit applications in writing to: Jasmina Debeljak, electronically, via email at grants@bep.rs. The Closing Date for submission of applications is February 29, 2012, and the Closing Time for Submission of Applications is 18:00 hours Local Belgrade Time. Late applications will not be considered.

 

Section 1 – Funding Opportunity Description

A. BACKGROUND

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has awarded a contract to Cardno Emerging Markets USA, Ltd. (formerly Emerging Markets Group, Ltd.) for the USAID Business Enabling Project in Serbia. The purpose of the Business Enabling Project is to help the Government of Serbia (GoS) improve the competitiveness of the Serbian economy and its private sector businesses. The overall objective is to assist GoS policy makers, business representatives, experts, and others to improve the business enabling environment and macroeconomic framework. The Project provides technical assistance and training to improve the business enabling environment, support macroeconomic stability, further develop financial markets, and improve and increase business and financial management capacities within government and business. The Business Enabling Project is made up of three components:

  1. Component 1 – Business Regulation and Economic Governance: Assist Serbia to improve its business regulation and economic governance, particularly in those areas where it performs poorly in international competitiveness and business environment rankings, so that it can better stimulate private sector growth and development and attract more foreign and domestic investment resources.
  2. Component 2 – Macroeconomic Policy and Public Financial Management: Assist the GoS and the National Bank of Serbia to improve macroeconomic policy, public financial management, and financial stability. Support efforts to improve GoS capacity to develop and implement fiscal policy.
  3. Component 3 – Financial Market Development: Support means to increase access to finance, including development of non bank financial institutions. Also, support the development of Serbia’s capital markets through improvements in market governance, accounting and disclosure standards. Support Serbia in its efforts to reform accounting and audit standards and practices and assist it in implementing those reforms.

The Project’s activities in Components 1, 2, and 3 are described in more detail on Project’s website: http://bep.rs

To accomplish reforms in each of these areas the Project helps the Government of Serbia work closely with the private sector and outside experts to make reforms that improve business competitiveness.

 

B. GRANT ACTIVITY DESCRIPTION

Problem Statement

The whole range of different regulations related to the capital market in Serbia has been enacted in 2011, followed by an extensive set of supporting regulations (bylaws). The new Capital Markets Law, adopted in May 2011, has entered into force on November 2011, while the new Company Law has entered into force as of February 1, 2012. In addition, the Takeover Law was changed in December 2011.

The new regulatory framework introduced significant changes, both on institutional and market participants’ level. Therefore, the professional public, experts, academics and representatives of institutions (like the Securities Commission), need a forum to enable successful implementation of new regulation. In addition, the forum should facilitate the exchange of opinions among relevant stakeholders and discuss potential challenges in implementation of new legislation.

At the forum, there is a need for discussion about novelties in the legal system in relation to capital markets in Serbia, as well as for exchange of ideas on the best way forward. Implementation of the new legislative framework will be a challenge for Serbia since it introduces new concepts as well as new institutions (for example, Investors Protection Fund). Therefore, the forum needs to invite foreign experts to share best international and EU practices with professional public in Serbia.

Purpose and Objectives

The purpose of the forum should be to present and discuss the key changes in the relevant legislation, the adjustments needed regarding investment companies, listed companies and other market participants, as well as future role of existing and new institutions.

Active participation should be initiated with the objective to discuss the implementation of the new legislation, possible challenges and opportunities to improve capital market in Serbia. During the forum, the following topics should be presented and discussed:

  • Key aspects of the new legal framework in Serbia, that includes new Capital Market Law, Takeover Law, and Company Law, as well as relevant bylaws;
  • Impact of the new legal framework on the development of the capital market in Serbia;
  • Adjustment of the investment companies, including capital adequacy requirements, to the new legislative framework, and possible challenges to adjustments;
  • New disclosure and reporting standards for listed companies, in addition to listed companies’ necessary adjustments to the new legal framework and possible challenges in implementation;
  • Investors’ protection and improving investors’ environment, including lessons learned in the Southeast European region; Investors Protection Fund, minority shareholders protection, market manipulation and improved corporate governance adjusted to the new legislation.

Forum participants, representatives of relevant stakeholders (e.g. policy makers, brokers, investment funds, companies, institutions that organize and monitor the market, etc.), should be able to obtain information and clarification about the main new concepts and practical issues that will affect their operations. This should allow them to align their business operations with the new legal framework.

After the forum, all relevant materials, presentations as well as answers to the questions raised should be published on the Securities Commission’s web site (www.sec.gov.rs) and BEP’s Policy cafe web page (www.policycafe.rs), in order to be available to the public.

Guidelines for Grant Activities

The Business Enabling Project intends to award a grant to a qualified organization to organize the one-day forum for about 200 participants in Belgrade, Serbia. The conference will be dedicated to the changes in capital market regulations - the Capital Market Law, the Company Law and the Takeover Law, including bylaws.

The forum should be organized in a convenient venue, with at least one big conference room, and several smaller conference rooms. The successful applicant will be in a position to organize the whole event, including contacting speakers and participants, printing forum materials, providing for forum venue and catering, and all related logistical work. The forum should be organized in late March in Belgrade, Serbia, and should last for one full day.

 

Section 2 – Award Information

Subject to the availability of funds, the Project intends to provide up to 1,700,000 RSD (Serbian Dinars) in total funding to be allocated over a three month period. The anticipated period of performance of the grant is expected to start from March 2012. The Project anticipates awarding one Fixed Obligation Grant under this RFA. Under a Fixed-Obligation Grant, all payments will be a fixed-sum payable upon completion of deliverables, which will be defined in detail during grant agreement negotiations.

 

Section 3 – Eligibility Information

Eligible organizations shall be able to comply with and achieve the proposed Program Description, Tasks, and Results and have a satisfactory performance record and record of integrity and business ethics.

Eligible organizations include legally registered Serbian non-for-profit, for-profit, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs).

Prior to the award of grant under this RFA, successful Applicants will be required to sign a Certification Regarding Terrorist Financing certifying that the Applicant’s organization does not provide and has never provided assistance to terrorists for terrorist activities. Successful Applicants may also be required to sign other Certifications as applicable to the award. The Certifications are attached as Annex 4 of this RFA.

Ineligible organizations include:

  • Public International Organizations;
  • Entities that have misused USAID funds in the past, organizations that advocate, promote or espouse anti-democratic policies or illegal activities;
  • Political parties or institutions;
  • Organizations that intend to use the grant for religious objectives;
  • Organizations that are on the list of parties excluded from federal procurement and non-procurement programs or the United Nations Security Sanctions Committee.

 

Section 4 – Application and Submission Information

Applicants should submit applications in writing to: Jasmina Debeljak electronically, via email at grants@bep.rs. The Closing Date for submission of applications is February 29, 2012 and the Closing Time for Submission of Applications is 18:00 hours Local Belgrade Time. Late applications will not be considered.

All applications in response to this RFA shall consist of a technical proposal and a budget proposal. The technical proposal must not be longer than 15 pages in length. Pages submitted in excess of 15 pages will not be reviewed. The cost proposal shall be submitted as a separate file from the technical proposal. The required format for applications is included as Annex 5 - Full Application Form and Annex 5A – Budget Form.

 

Section 5 – Application Review Information

Applications will be evaluated in accordance with the criteria set forth below. The criteria have been tailored to the requirements of this RFA. Applications should note that these criteria serve to: (a) identify the significant matters which Applicants should address in their applications; and (b) set the standard against which all applications will be evaluated.

To the extent necessary, the Project may request clarification and supplemental materials from Applicants whose applications have a reasonable chance of being selected for Award. The entry into discussion is to be viewed as part of the evaluation process and shall not be deemed as indicative of a decision or commitment upon the part of the Project to make an award to the Applicants with whom discussions are being held.

Applications will be evaluated by the Grants Selection Committee on the basis of 100 possible points. The weighting of various sections will be as follows:

Category

Maximum Points (100 Total)

Understanding of Key Issues
Methodology, Activities and Outcomes
Staffing/Management Plan
Relevant Past Experience and Performance
Cost Realism
Total Possible Points

10
20
30
20
20
100

  • Understanding of the Key Issues (10 points): Does the applicant demonstrate a clear understanding of the problems/key issues that the proposed grant activity will address? Are the overall goal and objectives of the proposed grant activity clearly stated and achievable?
  • Methodology and Activities (20 points): Is the methodology to organize the form clear? Are the activities stated in detail?  Are the expected outcomes and impacts stated in detail?  Does the applicant demonstrate how the activities will obtain the desired results? 
  • Staffing/Management Plan (30 points): Does the proposed staffing/management plan reflect the personnel/management needs of the grant activity? Does the applicant propose personnel with experience and skills necessary to successfully implement the proposed activities?
  • Relevant Past Experience and Performance (20 points): Does the organization/consortium have relevant past experience successfully implementing similar activities?
  • Cost Realism (20 points): Is the proposed budget realistic, well-thought out, and in-line with the proposed activities? Are the proposed costs reasonable, allowable and allocable to the grant? Is the grantee contributing cost-share or providing in-kind support?

The selection of the Applicant for award will be made by the Project’s Grant Selection Committee. Prior to the award of any resultant grant agreement, the Project must obtain prior approval from USAID.

 

Section 6 – Award and Administration Information

Before the applications’ specified expiration date, successful applicant(s) will receive written notice from the Grants Manager informing the applicant(s) that the Project either intends to award a grant to the applicant without negotiation, or that the Project intends to engage the applicant(s) in further negotiations with respect to a potential grant award. Negotiations conducted after the receipt of an application do not constitute an obligation on the part of the Project to award a grant. Unsuccessful applicants will be notified in writing by the Grants Manager.

Any resultant award will be subject to the terms and conditions of the Prime Contract for the USAID Business Enabling Project (for US organizations: 22 CFR 226, OMB Circulars, and the Standard Provisions for U.S. Non-governmental Recipients; for non-US organizations: Standard Provisions for Non-U.S. Non-governmental Recipients).

 

Section 7: Annexes

Annex 1: Certifications
Annex 2: Full Grant Application Form and (5A) Budget Form

 

 

 







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