Central Bohemia, under the direction of the region’s governor, David Rath (Social Democrats, ČSSD), is looking to “blow hundreds of millions” of crowns by using a controversial lottery system — due to be banned as of April 1 — to eliminate potential bidders on public contracts, the leadership of two opposition parties there claim.
According to the center-right TOP 09 party and the alliance of Mayors and Independent Candidates (STAN), which is allied to it, Rath plans to award a public order worth Kč 653 million using the system before the Law on Public Procurement is amended to ban the use of electronic lottery devices to “narrow down” tenders, news server Aktualne.cz reported on Monday.
Anti-corruption police (ÚOKFK) have been investigating dozens of cases of suspected corruption in public tenders in which allegedly rigged lottery machines were used to eliminate some bidders. Despite these allegations, rather than abandoning the system contracting authorities are rushing tenders in order to make full use of them before the controversial practice can be scrapped.
In December 2011 and January this year, Rath, an MP and former health minister, in effect “grandfathered in” tenders using the method on contracts totaling Kč 388 million, Aktualne.cz said. “It is a gamble with public money and European subsidies. We urge the regional council to decide to immediately stop this and allow all companies that qualify to submit bids,” TOP 09 vice chairperson Helen Langšádlová said.
However, a woman from the Central Bohemian region press department said it was a moot point, as TOP 09 and STAN are making demands for something that the council has already agreed to; public contracts listed after January 1, 2012 do not make use of the electronic lottery devices, Markéta Vítková told Aktualne.cz.
According to Czech Position’s information, the Central Bohemian region has been among the most active users of the controversial electronic lottery machines nationwide.
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