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Transport Minister survives no-confidence motion; plans to examine fuel cards tender

TRANSPORT, Construction and Regional Development Minister Ján Počiatek, who, as expected, survived a no-confidence motion in parliament on December 12, has announced that the tender for verifying payments with so-called fuel cards for road tolls will be examined by the Public Procurement Office (ÚVO), the Supreme Audit Office (NKÚ) and the European Commission, the TASR newswire reported.

TRANSPORT, Construction and Regional Development Minister Ján Počiatek, who, as expected, survived a no-confidence motion in parliament on December 12, has announced that the tender for verifying payments with so-called fuel cards for road tolls will be examined by the Public Procurement Office (ÚVO), the Supreme Audit Office (NKÚ) and the European Commission, the TASR newswire reported.

“I believe that these are relevant institutions that may be able to have a say concerning this,” said Počiatek, as quoted by TASR, adding that it was him who asked the aforementioned bodies to look into the issue.

Altogether 46 MPs voted to express no confidence in the minister while 74 lawmakers were against his dismissal. During a ten-hour debate, the opposition criticized the competition as overpriced and tailor-made, according to the SITA newswire.

The opposition, particularly the Christian Democratic Movement (KDH) criticises the tender run by the National Highway Company’s (NDS) saying that a company with unclear ownership called Paywell, which won the tender, has secured incomes amounting to €135 million over 13 years by collecting 6.15 percent of each payment.

“This is several times as much as collected by banks for payments with credit cards,” said KDH vice-chair Pavol Zajac at a press conference on November 24, as quoted by TASR, adding that Paywell presented the bid in the tender only one day after it was founded.

NDS defends the tender, claiming that KDH is comparing things that cannot be compared.

“Despite the classic service of credit cards [use] charging the construction of a complex autonomous system of authorisation terminals, centre for fees and software equipment is a necessary condition to provide this service,” said NDS spokesperson Michal Fúrik, as quoted by SITA.

Zajac further said that the tender as such was won by the Paywell company, but references on its behalf were provided by the Fleetpay company, which had been providing the service since the tolls were launched. It was given the commission from the state without a tender, a fact that was criticised by the European Commission. The EU then launched proceedings that were halted after the new tender that saw the eventual victory of Paywell was announced.

“We have a serious suspicion that the other company that took part in the tender was also backed by Fleetpay,” said Zajac, as quoted by TASR, adding that both Paywell and Fleetpay seem to be only shell companies with unknown owners.

Source: TASR, SITA

Compiled by Roman Cuprik from press reports
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