By Angelos Anastasiou
The House Ethics committee on Tuesday started work on overhauling procedures regarding tenders for public projects, with a view to combating incidents of corruption.
“We started today with a review of the general framework on government tenders, which needs to be broadened to include semi-state organisations, as well as local governance,” acting committee chairman Demetris Syllouris said.
He explained that the committee’s role will be supervisory, but also tasked with “creating a framework even better than the current one”.
“It has to become more specific, more modern, more strict, and include ways of keeping checks on the human factor – where our biggest weaknesses lie,” he said.
Syllouris said the committee’s effort will be to expedite procedure while broadening the scope of this framework to cover more areas and at the same time making them more specific.
“We will need to see how the tender terms are being prepared, who should administer the terms for each project, and how evaluation will be made by technocrats and not politicians, as in the case of local governance,” he said.
DISY deputy Andreas Kyprianou praised the current system of awarding public contracts but acknowledged that public funds are being squandered through “certain behaviours”.
“Politically, we have touched on the issue and will focus on preparing a new, impenetrable, flexible and simplified procedure,” he added.
Kyprianou said the new law must effectively eradicate corruption in the public sector.
AKEL MP Irene Charalambidou said that the top priority should be strengthening the public tenders’ framework. “That is, if we truly want to fight corruption,” she said.
She argued that the Paphos Sewerage Board scandal brought many distortions to light, and pointed out that although several of the companies involved have admitted paying bribes to public officials they are still allowed to submit tenders for public projects.
“The legislation that bans companies that paid bribes from submitting tenders for public projects relates only to companies that were found guilty, not ones that admitted to it,” she said.
But, she noted, the State Treasurer has asked the Attorney General’s office for clarification on this clause.