Prime Minister Iveta Radičová has started examining contracts worth €1.5 million or more awarded in 2007 and 2008 by the Finance Ministry under former minister Ján Počiatek, a nominee of Smer, to Hayek Consulting, then co-owned by Ivan Švejna, the current State Secretary of the Transport Ministry from Most-Híd party and Martin Chren, the State Secretary of the Ministry of Economy, hailing from the Freedom and Solidarity party, Sme wrote.
Hayek Consulting is part of the Hayek Foundation, a right-wing think tank which had been critical of certain policies of the previous government.
Three of the four contracts concluded between the Finance Ministry and Hayek Consulting were made without a public tender.
Hayek Consulting has commented that it won the main contract in a regular tender and that the three smaller deals were awarded in accordance with the public procurement law. Two firms bidding on the main contract had been excluded from the tender but neither contested that decision. Hayek Consulting subsequently hired the head of one of those firms to work on part of the project, Sme reported.
The contracts were for development of a model of effective budgeting for local governments and then the initiation of pilot projects with 30 local governments. The main project, including the pilot projects, was worth €1.4 million and the other three contracts had a value of €90,000, according to the Trend weekly which broke the story.
Hayek Consulting was also awarded a €8,100 contract with the Economy Ministry-led National Agency for Small and Medium-sized Businesses only days after both were appointed by the new cabinet, which took office on July 9. In mid-August Chren and Švejna disposed of their property interests and terminated the contract in question, TASR newswire wrote.
The opposition Smer party has called on Radičová and Speaker of Parliament Richard Sulik, chairman of SaS, to take action against Chren and Švejna over what he called “scandalous state commission” given to Hayek Consulting.
“This is an unprecedented conflict of interest, as the minister passed business to his state secretary and political party colleague,” said Smer chairman Robert Fico as quoted by TASR.
In response to Fico's call, Radičová said that she expects measures to be suggested now.
“They've been given until Monday,” Radičová said, TASR wrote.
20. Sep 2010 at 0:00 | Compiled by Spectator staff , Beata Balogova with press reports