By Angelos Anastasiou
IN YET another case of uncovering suspicious public sector deals, Auditor General Odysseas Michaelides has asked Agriculture minister Nikos Kouyialis to investigate a possible case of misappropriation of public funds in a tender issued by the Veterinary Services that points to a specific supplier, in violation of competition law.
In a six-page letter to the minister, Michaelides explained that the tender, which related to animal waste management, had been designed to include unrealistically high annual volumes requiring processing, at a commensurately high cost.
The Auditor General’s office had estimated annual animal waste management cost to hover around €521,750, and the Treasurer’s office had produced a slightly higher estimate at €800,000. But despite this, the Veterinary Services department insisted on its high tender conditions that could only be met by a single supplier, resulting in a contract that saw the eventual winner paid €2,860,639 for 2012 alone.
“It is evident that due to negligent or suspicious handling, in a single year €2m was paid in excess of the true estimated cost,” the letter said.
The duration of the contract in question is seven years, meaning the level of misappropriation of public funds may approach €14m.
Michaelides asked the Agriculture minister to take immediate action to resolve the problem and safeguard public interest.
“I expect that such measures will include the investigation of any responsibility by Veterinary Services department officials,” Michaelides said.
Michaelides’ letter was also forwarded to the House Watchdog committee for the exercising of parliamentary oversight.