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Brussels asks for return of funds

SLOVAKIA will probably have to return money received from European Union structural funds due to prevailing problems with public procurements, particularly over the way the country has organised some of its tenders. The country’s representatives are currently discussing the exact sum with the European Commission, which will then have to be substituted with money from the state budget, the Sme daily reported in its August 22 issue.

SLOVAKIA will probably have to return money received from European Union structural funds due to prevailing problems with public procurements, particularly over the way the country has organised some of its tenders. The country’s representatives are currently discussing the exact sum with the European Commission, which will then have to be substituted with money from the state budget, the Sme daily reported in its August 22 issue.

Deputy Prime Minister for Investments Ľubomír Vážny expects the sum to be anywhere between €30 million and €100 million. The EC did not comment on the expected amount, saying that they are still in negotiations. The final sum should be set in September, Sme wrote.

No one assumes that Slovakia will come out of this without having to return any money.

“It is possible we will have to return part of the money even this year,” Vážny told Sme.

One of the areas criticised by Brussels are the deadlines for the bidders. Yet, Vážny says that they are in compliance with Slovak law, which the EC does not take into consideration. He added that everybody has been making mistakes with these deadlines, and that this problem has persisted since 2008, as reported by Sme.

The country has already spent nearly €5 billion from the budget allocated for the years 2007-13. If the error rate in public procurements within all operational programmes was set at 7 percent, the country would have to return about €350 million, according to Sme.

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