Transport minister Jan Pociatek is being put under pressure after the Public Procurement Office ruled that a tender for work on a stretch of railway in the Trencin region had been discriminatory.
Railway company ZSR awarded the contract to the company TSS Grade, which came second in the tender with a price EUR 40 million above first-place Skanska’s quotation of EUR 200 million, which was subsequently disqualified for having an excessively low price, reports daily Hospodarske Noviny.
Skanska appealed its disqualification back in 2010 and another tender was held, but it was repeatedly excluded, with ZSR eventually finalising the contract with TSS Grade last year. Skanska’s attorney Tomas Kamenec said he appreciated how the Public Procurement Office had considered all the company’s arguments in the latest ruling, while the contested victor TSS Grade is refusing to comment.
TSS Grade won the tender also last year, according to the daily, while there are speculations of crony ties with the ruling Smer-SD party. The tender itself was launched back in 2009 when PM Robert Fico led the government with his Smer-SD party.
Former transport minister from the KDH party, Jan Figel, is calling for either an explanation of the tender from minister Pociatek or his recall from the post by PM Robert Fico. In response, the Ministry of Transport issued a statement declaring that it saw no grounds for the railway company not to award the contract to the consortium led by TSS Grade.
The whole affair could end up in the courts if the procurement authority takes the matter further, but either way, it looks set to become yet another drawn out legal battle of appeals and counter-appeals that could take years and possibly cost the Slovak taxpayers a hefty amount in compensation.