Construction and Regional Development Minister Igor Štefanov said his visit to Brussels on Tuesday, October 6, to discuss the so-called bulletin-board tender was a success, the minister announced at a press conference on Wednesday, October 7. This was despite the EC announcing that Slovakia would not be reimbursed for around €11 million of costs arising from the tender because of serious irregularities in the way it was conducted. The costs must instead be borne by Slovak taxpayers.
Štefanov, however, claimed Slovakia would not lose a single euro from the European Union funds which had originally been earmarked for the contract. "You were all claiming that Slovakia would lose money, but it won't lose a single euro," he told the media, in reaction to reports about Tuesday's announcement that the EC had decided not to reimburse the costs.
Even though he himself still considers the tender to have been transparent, Štefanov said that Slovakia had decided not to ask the EC for reimbursement. "These funds will be replaced from the ministry's and state's budget," he explained. Štefanov said that Slovak taxpayers would not be affected by what he called ‘recycling’ of the money. The EU funds designated for the tender would be transferred to other state activities, which would otherwise have been paid from the state budget. The minister added he did not see any reason to leave his post over the matter, despite his direct involvement in the irregular methods used in the original tender, which was won by a consortium closely linked to the party leader (Ján Slota of the SNS) who nominated him.
Compiled by Zuzana Vilikovská from press reports
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8. Oct 2009 at 10:00