Government wants to curb procurement watchdog powers concerning EU funds

Public Procurement Office protests against the proposed limits to its powers.

Deputy PM for Informatisation and Investments Richard RašiDeputy PM for Informatisation and Investments Richard Raši (Source: SME)

The Office of the Deputy PM for Investment and Informatisation, currently with Richard Raši of Smer at its helm, says it wants to increase transparency and make the drawing of EU funds easier.

As part of its efforts, it proposes curbing the powers of the Public Procurement Office (ÚVO) in its proposed amendment on the public procurement law, the TASR newswire reported. Raši and his office argue that ministries already audit the orders financed by the EU funds and that public procurement in Slovakia takes too long.

ÚVO wants to maintain its right to oversee above-the-limit orders financed from EU funds before the final deal is closed with selected suppliers, in the so-called second ex ante control of the contracts and orders.

"The findings of the office can help reveal mistakes and lower the potential corrections that the European Commission might require with these orders afterwards," ÚVO head Miroslav Hlivák said on June 25 as reported by the TASR newswire, adding that it is important that an independent body keep an eye on the projects financed from the EU funds.

Raši said that his office is trying to find a compromise with the ÚVO. He points to the results of an analysis showing that a process that should take 30 days takes 111 days. In Slovakia, the public procurement takes on average 590 days and his measures should help shorten the process by about a hundred days.

Last year, the ÚVO checked 91 above-the-limit orders financed from EU funds and found mistakes that had or could have had an impact on the results of the public procurement, amounting to almost €100 million, thus preventing correction from the European Commission, TASR wrote.

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