WHILE accepting the decision of Slovakia's Public Procurement Office (ÚVO), Agriculture Ministry officials are unhappy with the move to cancel a tender for the planned Integrated Administration and Control System (IACS), announced in early September.
"By cancelling the public tender for the second time, the ÚVO is putting the Agriculture Ministry under critical time pressure," said ministry spokesperson Anna Majkútová, adding that if Slovakia becomes a member of the European Union in 2004 as planned, there will be little time left to develop, test and launch the system, essential for handling farm subsidies.
"In its reports, the EU has appealed to Slovakia to accelerate IACS development, mainly due to the lack of time and our commitment to secure an operational system by January 2004." said Majkútová.
A required mechanism of every EU country, IACS is designed to handle the provision of state budget funds to farmers, later reimbursed from EU development funds.
Without IACS, Slovak farmers will not be able to draw EU direct payments, estimated at 74 million euro for the first year of union membership and 89 million the following year, said Majkútová.
According to ÚVO officials, the tender was cancelled due to complicated and discriminatory evaluation criteria.