SLOVAK Construction and Regional Development Minister Igor Štefanov (a nominee of the Slovak National Party (SNS)) sealed an agreement on May 18 to end a controversial contract which contributed to the downfall of his predecessor.
Štefanov agreed on the termination with the consortium of companies – including Zamedia, Consulting&Management, European Consultants Organisation, and Avocat – that was awarded the contract, ministry spokesperson Dagmar Vanečková told the TASR newswire.
The consortium was the sole bidder in the so-called bulletin-board tender, worth €119.5 million, for technical services connected with the use of EU funds. The ministry’s failure to observe procurement law when awarding the contract led to the former minister, Marian Janušek (also SNS), being forced to resign. At its extraordinary session on April 23 the government instructed the new minister to cancel the agreement without any financial consequences for Slovakia.
“At the Construction Ministry's request, all members of the consortium signed an agreement to end the contract on providing the services, thus accepting the government’s resolution from April 23, 2009. The consortium of the above-mentioned companies ceased providing the construction ministry with their services on April 23 without applying any sanctions against Slovakia,” said Vanečková, as quoted by TASR. The agreement will be published on the website of the Construction Ministry.
The opposition parties argue that Štefanov was responsible for the controversial tender along with Janušek, the former minister. The three main parliamentary opposition parties collected a sufficient number of signatures on May 15 to convene an extraordinary session of parliament to debate a motion of no confidence in Štefanov, the second such motion proposed since his appointment in April.
The motion was unsuccessful when put to a vote in parliament on May 20, and Štefanov remained in his ministerial post. 51 out of 103 MPs present voted against him, with only 50 voting in support. But 76 votes - a majority of all parliament's 150 deputies - are required to dismiss a member of the government.