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ÚVO confirms Čaplovič violated the law

THE PUBLIC Procurement Office confirmed that former education minister Dušan Čaplovič violated the law when he did not arrange the tender over distributing learning books, but only prolonged an existing agreement with the company Xepap for another three years. This caused a loss of state funds of about €0.5 million, Miroslav Beblavý of Sieť said on October 28.

THE PUBLIC Procurement Office confirmed that former education minister Dušan Čaplovič violated the law when he did not arrange the tender over distributing learning books, but only prolonged an existing agreement with the company Xepap for another three years. This caused a loss of state funds of about €0.5 million, Miroslav Beblavý of Sieť said on October 28.

It is possible that ÚVO will now fine the ministry €26,000, the TASR newswire reported.

According to ÚVO, Čaplovič did not observe the law when he extended the agreement with Xepap in December 2013 and promised to pay it more money. The Sme daily wrote back in January 2014 that based on the new deal the company would get €524,520 more.

With such a step, Čaplovič breached the rules of transparent public procurement.

“Potential bidders did not have a chance to participate in the order, which inhibited fair competition,” ÚVO spokesperson Ján Mažgút said, as quoted by Sme.

Beblavý said that competition over distribution of learning books was arranged in 2011 by then education minister Eugen Jurzyca (Slovak Democratic and Christian Union (SDKÚ)). It was won by Xepap which signed the agreement for two years with the possibility to extend the agreement. Čaplovič used the possibility to extend the deal by another three years, but did not keep the conditions. Instead, he increased the sum paid to the firm by €14,570 a month, which totals to €524,520.

“In other words, with one signature Čaplovič gave the company €0.5 million for nothing,” Beblavý said, as quoted by TASR.

Čaplovič commented on October 29 that when he was serving as a minister, Xepap did not receive any money from the sums described by Beblavý.

“Conversely, the Education Ministry had to settle the unpaid commitments to the company Ad Rem which distributed and stored the learning books before Xepap and which was not successful in the competition arranged by my predecessor Eugen Jurzyca,” Čaplovič told TASR.

Beblavý, who challenged the agreement together with Lucia Žitňanská, asks how Smer will punish Čaplovič for the mistake.

The Education Ministry wrote in its statement it is aware of the violation of the law on public procurement. After new minister Peter Pellegrini was appointed, then head of the public procurement department Richard Urbanovič was dismissed from his post, ministry spokesperson Beáta Dupaľová Ksenzsighová told TASR.

“We are searching for more economic and more effective solutions to this matter, but the agreement is still valid,” Dupaľová Ksenzsighová added.

Source: TASR, Sme

Compiled by Radka Minarechová from press reports

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