EC fines Hungary over public procurement irregularities . . . again

July 22, 2016

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Government information window in the 12th district

The European Commission has fined the Hungarian government HUF 334.6 million (USD 1.1 million) over discrepancies in a public procurement contract of the Prime Minister’s Office, wrote Hungarian financial daily Világgazdaság.

Last August, the ministry issued a public tender for the so-called “government administration windows” — small offices where people can obtain personal documents, including ID cards, social security numbers or even passports. The tender was won by magazine publisher and media mogul Csaba Csetényi, neighbor of propaganda minister Antal Rogán, whose advertisement company offered to do the job for HUF 1.575 billion (USD 5.4 million).

The European Commission found it went against regulations that companies had only 10 days to submit their offers. They also wondered why the ministry waited until 2015 to issue a tender when development of government administration windows started in 2010. Brussels also did not understand why all the money was spent within two months, a remarkably short period for such a huge amount.

According to Világgazdaság, this was not the only discrepancy the EC found. Brussels has been monitoring the public procurement contracts of the ministry for months, giving Hungary a grade of 2 on a scale of 1 to 4. They examined 56 tenders between January and September last year, and found discrepancies in at least 12 of them. The result is better than a year before, when every fourth tender was found to violate EU public procurement regulations.

The EC has called on the Hungarian government to pay a particularly severe fine of HUF 1.6 billion (USD 5.5 million) for disqualifying Lajos Simicska-owned construction company Közgép from submitting tenders after Hungary’s Public Procurement Authority found one of its bids had contained false information regarding the size and capacity of a piece of equipment owned by one of its subcontractors.