Education Ministry teaches us all a lesson

There have been many tenders under the current government (2 days to go) that have been questioned either because of overpricing or croneyism, which if proven to be true would certainly bring morals into doubt. An ironic twist in one could be a final gesture of the cabinet as it possibly says farewell to its position of power. 

The Slovak Education Ministry has decided to initiate a lawsuit against the Public Procurement Office (ÚVO) in Slovakia as it publicly questions the office’s judgement in evaluating the tender for Slovak school textbooks, which, after all, is its job and its right.

The nationalist SNS nominated education minister Ján Mikolaj made a statement saying: “We consider the authority’s decisions absolutely incorrect and incompetent,”  following the final cabinet session on 9 June.

The move comes as the procurement authority’s Appeals Department confirmed a fine in excess of €140,000 on the Education Ministry a day earlier. Spokeswoman of the authority, Helena Fialová, responded to Mikolaj’s statement by saying her office abides to the law when making its decisions, but that the ministry is entitled to twist the judicial system. The fine was determined back in March for the Ministry selecting suppliers for a textbook order worth over €2.8 million, which the procurement authority deemed unlawful.

Exactly two years ago in June 2008 the Education Ministry initiated negotiations with the publishing houses SPN – Mladé Letá and AITC for an order to print and re-release selected textbooks that had previously been printed. The Public Procurement Office fined the ministry for making use of an exception to the Public Procurement Act, which in fact should apply only to the procurement of library books, and not to the purchase of textbooks.

Exactly what the Ministry hopes to gain from its lawsuit is unknown, but it may be a final lesson from the government ministry that you should not bite the hand that, at least figuratively, feeds you.

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