The standalone government of PM Robert Fico’s Smer-Sd party has come under a fire if criticism at its planned revision of the Public Procurement Act, which many feel swings open the door to cronyism rather than close it shut.
Independent watchdog Transparency International Slovensko (TIS) is the latest to join the criticism, with head Gabriel Sipos explaining to SME daily the many loopholes that the revision contains and demanding interior minister Robert Kalinak to scrap certain elements of the draft bill.
Sipos sees one of the biggest problems in the clause that allows direct orders for so-called strategic transactions, which means anything over EUR 10 million. This effectively means the government can order the procurement directly from a private company, at least when it comes to the big fish.
The Fair Play Alliance (AFP) has also spoken out against the proposal, saying there is not even any need to point to the kind of corruption that the bill could generate. The idea of unique to Slovakia, with nowhere else in Europe employing such a system, but minister Kalinak swept this aside saying “Slovakia always tries to be the leader”.
Another problem is how the lowest bid should now be disqualified from tenders, which could mean a loss of around EUR 50 million a year for the state according to calculations of TIS. That would hardly matter if the final winner of larger tenders is chosen directly, however, as orders will make their way to the most ‘desirable’ bidder.
Last week former justice minister Lucia Zitnanska (SDKU) pointed to how the revision would make Kalinak the most powerful man in government and let the government choose the winners of tenders as it wished.