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Supreme Audit Office unclear about tender investigation report

Slovakia’s Supreme Audit Office (NKÚ) did not receive clear answers to its questions about the disputed tender at the Construction Ministry, according to an announcement on Monday, March 23. NKÚ said it had requested answers to certain questions from the Public Procurement Office (ÚVO), which reacted only by referring NKÚ to sections of the Public Procurement Act instead of clarifying the issues for NKÚ, reported the TASR newswire. Lenka Nosálová from NKÚ's press department told TASR that NKÚ will wait for UVO's inspection results now. ÚVO spokesperson Helena Fialova, however, said that her office had received no questions from NKÚ.

Slovakia’s Supreme Audit Office (NKÚ) did not receive clear answers to its questions about the disputed tender at the Construction Ministry, according to an announcement on Monday, March 23. NKÚ said it had requested answers to certain questions from the Public Procurement Office (ÚVO), which reacted only by referring NKÚ to sections of the Public Procurement Act instead of clarifying the issues for NKÚ, reported the TASR newswire.

Lenka Nosálová from NKÚ's press department told TASR that NKÚ will wait for UVO's inspection results now. ÚVO spokesperson Helena Fialova, however, said that her office had received no questions from NKÚ.

ÚVO has finished the inspection, but it cannot be published because it first needs to be signed by the chair of the ÚVO inspection commission who is on sick-leave.

The tender was announced last year for the provision of information educational and legal activities, plus interpretation and translation services to implement operational programmes of the Construction Ministry. A part of these services are to be financed by the EU.

The media cast doubt about the methods of the tender last year, noting that it was only announced on a bulletin board at the ministry. Construction and Regional Development Minister Marian Janusek, a nominee of the Slovak National Party (SNS), then signed contracts worth €120 million with a consortium including two companies, Avocat and Zamedia that are said to be close to SNS party leader Jan Slota. It has been alleged that the tender was only a show, with the intention from the outset to provide direct orders for these two companies.

Investigations at the ministry, one by ÚVO and another by the NKÚ, were initiated by Prime Minister Robert Fico at the end of 2008. Fico said he would decide on the propriety of the tender based on the results of these investigations.

An NGO, the Fair-Play Alliance, also asked the ministry for accounting documents pertaining to the tender. It took that organization only three days to label the documents as "chaotic and disorderly". The Alliance concluded that the way the tender was carried out was not transparent and said that it will inform the EC about its findings.

The parliamentary opposition initiated an unsuccessful no-confidence vote in Minister Janušek in December 2008 in connection with the disputed tender.

Compiled by Zuzana Vilikovská from press reports
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