Budapest, June 11 (MTI) – More control by civil groups over public procurement would increase transparency around the utilisation of community funds, and reduce the cost of projects and corruption, the head of Transparency International Hungary said on Thursday.
TI has repeatedly warned about the risk of corruption involved in the rules and implementation of Hungary’s public procurement processes, Jozsef Peter Martin said, referring to the European Union’s 2015 Hungary report, which said that a lack of competition and transparency was especially worrying.
The European Commission has requested the Hungarian government to participate in a pilot project involving civil supervision of EU-financed projects. This pilot would offer a good opportunity to demonstrate that “public procurement can be completed without corruption”, Martin said.
Zoltan Keri, department head at the cabinet office, said that by now public procurement has “nearly become a swear word” suggesting “graft, underhand practices, theft”, even if there exists public procurement without corruption. He added that it is a “sober, common interest” that public funds should be legitimately disbursed and those monies should really serve development.
Keri also insisted that the European Commission’s critical remarks had not been directed at Hungary’s regulations but “the way they are implemented in daily practice”. He added that proposals before parliament seek to increase competition and ensure that public procurement is simpler and faster.
TI’s legal director Miklos Ligeti welcomed that the new public procurement law would increase transparency and competition, but said that reducing the red tape could involve risks of corruption. He also called it ill-considered that under the new legislation public tenders could be restricted to any three bidders selected by the procurement agency.