ONLY companies which will reveal their ownership structure will be able to take part in public competitions. This stems from the amendment to the law on public procurement approved by 85 MPs on December 3. The bill was passed in a fast-tracked procedure, the TASR newswire wrote.
MPs adopted new legislation though it is not effective enough and can be easily circumvented, the Sme daily opined in its December 4 issue.
The amendment was prepared after the media informed about overpriced purchase of a CT scanner by the Piešťany hospital which cost former health minister Zuzana Zvolenská, former deputy speaker of parliament Renáta Zmajkovičová and former speaker of parliament Pavol Paška their posts, Sme wrote.
Despite the ban on companies with vague ownership structure to attend public competitions, the law will contain several exemptions, including joint-stock companies listed on stock exchanges in EU member states, European Economic Area and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) as well as their subsidiaries. According to advocates of the law, the companies in question must already meet a number of challenging criteria and therefore cannot be shell firms. Bidders that submit untrue information in public tenders about their ownership structure will face fines from the Public Procurement Office ranging between €1,000-10,000.
Justice Minister Tomáš Borec confirmed to Sme that the law does not solve all problems, but it is “the step in right direction”. He promised to improve it in the future.
The opposition says that the amendment is inefficient and nothing more than marketing stunt. A number of opposition lawmakers attempted to amend the bill with a mandatory duty for shell companies to reveal also the identity of the end beneficiary from state deals. Independent MP Miroslav Beblavý and Lucia Žitňanská of Most-Híd also unsuccessfully attempted to establish a register of such beneficiaries, to be maintained by the National Bank of Slovakia (NBS), the country’s central bank, TASR wrote.
The ruling Smer party has not rejected the idea of such a register outright, but stated that its introduction will require communication with the European Central Bank first, as it would mean that NBS has to receive new powers.
The parliament also rejected the amending proposal from Ľudovít Kaník and Eugen Jurzyca, both of the Slovak Democratic and Christian Union (SDKÚ), to ban the exclusion of suppliers from tenders for requirements that have no significant merit or importance for the commission yet might profoundly restrict the number of bidders, as reported by TASR.
Earlier in the day, ethics watchdog Fair-Play Alliance (AFP) called on the government and parliament to come up with real solutions that would ensure the protection of public money from overpriced tenders and expose those hiding behind companies that profit from state resources, TASR reported.
“This amendment will affect only a fraction of all cases,” Zuzana Wienk of AFP said, as quoted by TASR.
Compiled by Radka Minarechová from press reports
The Slovak Spectator cannot vouch for the accuracy of the information presented in its Flash News postings.
4. Dec 2014 at 10:00