Vážny: Figeľ has erred in cancelling highway

Transport Minister Ján Figeľ has made a big mistake by not extending the deadline for obtaining financial resources for the first public-private partnership (PPP) package originally designed for the construction of selected D1 motorway sections, Smer parliamentary deputy and former transport minister Ľubomír Vážny has said on September 3.

Transport Minister Ján Figeľ has made a big mistake by not extending the deadline for obtaining financial resources for the first public-private partnership (PPP) package originally designed for the construction of selected D1 motorway sections, Smer parliamentary deputy and former transport minister Ľubomír Vážny has said on September 3.

"The Transport Ministry found itself in an advantageous position after [the June 12 general] election, as the contractor was willing to meet all the demands of the ministry halfway - including a lower price - because considerable resources have already been invested into the preparation stage of the construction work," said Vážny as quoted by TASR newswire, adding that the whole 75 km of motorway could have been built at a far cheaper price than the one originally projected.

Figeľ claimed that obtaining resources for the first PPP package is next to impossible, a statement that Vážny finds quite surprising.

"The contractor guaranteed that the project would be fully financially covered with the state contribution or without it," said Vážny. "Concluding the project financially recently depended on a complaint over environmental issues after all, a fact that the current minister chose not to address."

According to Vážny, the decision not to continue projects that had already obtained building permits means postponing the construction of the sections indefinitely, TASR wrote.

"The current leadership has cancelled the €2.4-billion D1 motorway construction that Slovakia desperately needs and that has great importance as far as the employment rate goes during a crisis," he claimed.

Figeľ has said that the state didn't see the signing of the contract even by August 30, so it expired.

"I decided not to extend this process anymore, as the ministry has no guarantee that the first package will be financially covered," Figeľ said at a press conference on September 2.

He said that he wants construction work in Slovakia to continue, but in a responsible and transparent way. Figeľ claimed as early as on August 11 that there is a possibility of having the D1 construction financed by other means than PPP projects.

The deadline for securing the finances for the first D1 package was postponed from the middle of April 2010 until late April, then to May 28. Following talks with the European Commission, the Transport Ministry later postponed the date to June 11 and, finally, until the end of June. The final deadline was set at August 30, 2010, TASR reported.

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