The Slovak Tax Directorate has decided to conclude an agreement to rent a building to house all of the tax offices in Košice with Nitra Invest, a company owned by Slovak Democratic and Christian Union (SDKÚ) district head Ondrej Ščurka, the TASR newswire reported told by Tax Directorate spokesperson Gabriela Dianová. The decision ignores the objections of two NGOs which were specifically consulted on the transparency of the deal.
Nitra Invest was the only company that submitted a bid in response to the tender, which was a re-run of a previous procedure held earlier this summer. That attracted two bidders but was cancelled by the Tax Directorate on the basis that it was unable to evaluate the applications.
Earlier this year, claims of cronyism surrounding a since-annulled deal for the Tax Directorate to rent the building from Nitra Invest led to a serious crisis in the governing coalition and discord between Prime Minister Iveta Radičová and Finance Minister Ivan Mikloš (both from the SDKÚ).
"I've decided to sign the agreement on the basis of a process during which the legislation was fully respected, [during which] no participant in the tender raised a complaint concerning the selection, and [which] has been assessed as the most transparent proceeding so far among all those that were aimed at finding a new building for the tax offices in Košice," Tax Directorate general director Igor Krnáč said.
Krnáč said he appreciated the participation of two non-governmental organisations, Transparency International Slovensko and Fair-Play Alliance, for their assessment of the tender, despite the fact that both had both recommended that the Tax Directorate should not conclude a contract with Nitra Invest based on the present process.
The decision by the Tax Directorate to sign a rental agreement with Nitra Invest has turned the involvement of Fair-Play Alliance into an empty gesture and a useless effort, alliance programme director Zuzana Wienk said, as quoted by TASR. Fair-Play Alliance recommended that the Tax Directorate scrap the tender. According to the political ethics watchdog, the criteria required from the bidders were tailor-made to favour Nitra Invest.
Transparency International Slovensko (TIS), which also took part in assessing the selection process, expressed the same stance. "Once the Finance Minister asks a non-government organisation for an assessment, I would expect that the ministry or the Tax Directorate before signing the contract to provide arguments explaining why our recommendations and criticism were found to be irrelevant," TIS director Gabriel Šípoš said, as quoted by TASR.
Compiled by Zuzana Vilikovská from press reports
The Slovak Spectator cannot vouch for the accuracy of the information presented in its Flash News postings.
22. Aug 2011 at 14:00