THE AMERICAN and German chambers of commerce active in Slovakia criticise the changes which will in fact allow farmers to draw money from EU funds without public procurements. The criticised changes include the amendments to the law on protection and use of agricultural land, the law on integrated prevention and control of polluting the environment which will indirectly change also the law on public procurement.

The American Chamber of Commerce in Slovakia (AmCham) has already sent a letter to President Ivan Gašparovič asking him to veto the controversial measures. According to AmCham, the two bills were adopted by the parliament in January without proper public discussion, though they will significantly change the rules for the use of public resources.

“We consider the way of adopting laws, without the access of the public as non-transparent,” reads the letter sent to media, adding that it eventually “reduces the transparency and trust of business environment as well as the overall attractiveness of Slovakia as a destination for foreign investors”.

AmCham pointed out that the amendments, that will also affect the public procurements, were prepared by the parliamentary committees which do not actually deal with this issue. It referred to the fact that the law was discussed only in the parliamentary agricultural committee which has nothing to do with tenders, the Sme daily reported in its February 7 issue.

One of the most controversial measures is the exception to fruit and vegetables growers and beekeepers who will be able to procure goods and services for European money without public competition. The state expects that they will spend about €84 million during the following six years, Sme wrote.

Though AmCham understand the objective of the government to make drawing the money for farmers from EU structural funds more effective, they disagree with the way it was passed.

“We are afraid that if the proposed exception is adopted, Slovakia will face serious consequences, especially when drawing money from the EU funds based on this exception,” the letter reads.

Also the Slovak-German Chamber of Commerce (SNOPK) said that the new measures will not contribute to higher transparency of public procurements. There is also a possibility that it might be at odds with European legislation, said SNOKP spokesman Markus Halt, as quoted by Sme.

Source: AmCham letter, Sme

Compiled by Radka Minarechová from press reports

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