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Ministry comments submitted to procurement investigators

The Public Procurement Office (ÚVO) accepted the comments submitted by representatives of the Construction and Regional Development Ministry on February 25 concerning its controversial tender for information systems, ÚVO spokesperson Helena Fialová told the TASR newswire on February 26.

The Public Procurement Office (ÚVO) accepted the comments submitted by representatives of the Construction and Regional Development Ministry on February 25 concerning its controversial tender for information systems, ÚVO spokesperson Helena Fialová told the TASR newswire on February 26.

ÚVO will now study and evaluate the comments and only then a protocol be signed by both parties. Fialova expects this to be done by the end of next week. She said that UVO cannot provide further information on the ministry’s comments at this time, as the inspection process is still ongoing.

“ÚVO's chairman Bela Angyal will, after official completion of the inspection, inform the public as well as Prime Minister Robert Fico (about the results of the inspection),” said Fialová.

The controversial tender was to provide information and educational and legal activities, plus interpretation and translation services to assist the ministry in implementing its operational programmes. Part of these services would be financed by funds from the European Union.

Doubts were cast about the procedures for the tender last year when it was alleged that information about the tender was posted only on a bulletin board at the ministry. The Construction Minister, Marián Janušek, an SNS nominee, then signed contracts worth €120 million with two companies, Avocat and Zamedia, that are alleged to be close to SNS party leader Ján Slota. The tender was allegedly only a cover-up for direct orders for these two companies.

Inspections at the ministry, one by ÚVO and another by the Supreme Audit Office (NKÚ), were initiated by PM Fico at the end of 2008. Neither inspection has been completely finished yet, and Fico said he would decide on the issue based on the results of the inspections.

The opposition parties initiated an unsuccessful no-confidence vote in Janušek in December 2008 in connection with the disputed tender. An NGO, the Fair-Play Alliance, also asked the ministry for accounting documents pertaining to the tender. After studying the documents, the organisation labelled them as “chaotic and disorderly”. It concluded that the way the tender was carried out wasn't transparent and said that it will inform the Euopean Commission about its findings. TASR

Compiled by Zuzana Vilikovská from press reports
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