NEWS IN SHORT

100 days of online public contracts

SLOVAK state, regional and municipal governments have been required to publish all their contracts, paid invoices and orders online for the past 100 days. The requirement, which took effect on January 1, was designed to improve transparency in how public money is spent and has been called a show-case initiative by the government and has aided the media in reporting some questionable spending at Slovak ministries and state-run companies.

SLOVAK state, regional and municipal governments have been required to publish all their contracts, paid invoices and orders online for the past 100 days. The requirement, which took effect on January 1, was designed to improve transparency in how public money is spent and has been called a show-case initiative by the government and has aided the media in reporting some questionable spending at Slovak ministries and state-run companies.

Transparency watchdogs have called the new requirements the strongest anti-corruption measure taken by the current government and have compared its possible effects on corrupt practices in Slovak politics to the so-called “info-law” – the law on public access to information – passed in 2000 by the first government of Mikuláš Dzurinda.

Since the law came into effect over 2,200 contracts have been published on the Central Register of Contracts, a website where state ministries, their budgetary organisations and public-service institutions publish their contracts, according to Peter Bubla, the Justice Ministry’s spokesperson. Regional and municipal authorities are required to publish contracts on their own websites. Smaller municipalities without websites must publish their contracts on the website of the Business Bulletin, which has so far posted 720 contracts.

Beginning on May 1 a temporary directive becomes effective which requires municipal and regional authorities to publish only contracts over €1,000, while other government institutions must publish contracts for €3,000 and more. The directive came in response to perceived bureaucratic difficulties caused by the new requirement and will remain in force until the Justice Ministry proposes an amendment to the public access to information law that will make the publishing of contracts and invoices easier, Bubla said.


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