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TWO PREVIOUS TENDER ATTEMPTS ENDED IN FAILURE

FinMin seeks bidders for euro campaign - again

THE FINANCE Ministry has started its third attempt at picking an agency to run a massive campaign explaining the common EU currency's importance for Slovaks.
The tender has already been killed twice: first on May 9 due to the bidders' complaints that the criteria was unclear, and again on June 16 because of objections to the chosen tender method.

THE FINANCE Ministry has started its third attempt at picking an agency to run a massive campaign explaining the common EU currency's importance for Slovaks.

The tender has already been killed twice: first on May 9 due to the bidders' complaints that the criteria was unclear, and again on June 16 because of objections to the chosen tender method.

This time bidders can submit their offers by July 23 for the information and promotion campaign worth Sk134 million (€4 million), not including VAT. The campaign will be financed from state coffers and the pocket of the National Bank of Slovakia.

The Finance Ministry published the call for bids on July 17 in the Public Procurement Office's bulletin, in the official EU bulletin and on the official website of the Slovak government's appointee for euro adoption, Igor Barát.

The call was published along with an announcement of the cancellation of the second tender, the SITA newswire wrote.

The tender selection commission will assess the form, content and the depth of the bids. The so-called Day of the Euro information event and a massive media campaign will each have a 35 percent weight in the decision. The form and content of the direct marketing campaign will make up 30 percent of the assessment.

The tender method will be a competition of proposals, which is commonly used for projects involving architecture, territorial planning, construction engineering and data processing.

The first tender was promptly killed on May 9 after several bidders complained about the ambiguity of selection criteria and said that some of these criteria had been geared to benefit particular agencies.

The second tender was cancelled on July 13 after a non-bidding company, Renesans, objected to "competitive dialogue" as a chosen tender method, and the Public Procurement Office (ÚVO) accepted the objections.

"The ÚVO considered the objections to be well-founded and decided to cancel the above public procurement, since the contested criterion does not guarantee the selection of the best bid from the economic standpoint in line with the public procurement law, but only heads to evaluation of applicants' activity during a competitive dialogue," read the ÚVO statement.

The campaign will reach Slovak households to raise awareness of and explain the importance of the new currency, and educate the public about practical steps linked to changing the currency, such as the display of dual prices, and other measures.

Ivan Štefanec, the former government appointee for euro adoption and parliamentary deputy for the Slovak Democratic and Christian Union, told Slovak Radio earlier this month that the fact that two tenders have already been cancelled shows that the government has been underestimating the preparations for euro adoption.

Finance Ministry spokesman Miroslav Šmál disagreed.

"Without a doubt, the preparations for euro adoption are in line with our timetable and we have no delays," he told The Slovak Spectator. "The preparations started with enough time budgeted, and the communication campaign itself will start at the beginning of next year and culminate in the second half of 2008.

"There is enough time for the campaign preparations," he added.

Finance Minister Ján Počiatek met with EU Commissioner for Economic and Monetary Affairs Joaquin Almunia during the commissioner's visit to Bratislava on July 17. Počiatek briefly touched on the issue of preparations for the euro adoption.

Almunia encouraged Slovakia to strive for the sustainability of meeting the Maastricht criteria and called on the government to reduce the public finance deficit. The commissioner also warned about the rise of consumer prices, wrote the ČTK newswire.

"Alumnia has not expressed discontent with the course of preparations so far," Šmál said. "Naturally, he has said that there is still a lot of work needs to be done, but it does not mean that he has criticised the preparations."

Almost half of the 1,083 respondents surveyed by the Slovak Statistics Bureau said that they lack information about euro adoption in Slovakia. Only a third of the respondents of the survey, conducted between May 1 and May 10, said that the information already available is enough.

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