Marius Pedersen bids lowest for eco-tender

Marius Pedersen Engineering made lowest offer for so-called Czech eco-tender organized and championed by the Finance Ministry

Marius Pedersen Engineering (MPE), the originally  Danish company now part of the France-based international utilities company Veolia Environment, made the lowest offer to clean up some of the Czech Republic’s most serious environmental pollution in a massive public tender.

MPE put in an offer of Kč 56.8 billion, followed by the Geosan group with Kč 57.8 billion and Environmental Services, of the J&T investment group, with a bid of Kč 65.5 billion, the Ministry of Finance announced on Tuesday.

The ministry said an evaluation committee should weigh up the three offers and report back by the end of the month. It has said previously that the price of bids would be the biggest single factor in selecting a winner.

The clean up tender is one of the biggest ever organized by a Czech ministry with controversy dogging the so-called eco-tender ever since it was announced more than two years ago. The Czech branch of corruption watchdog Transparency International (TI) called last week for the offers to be opened but no winner chosen as the best way of shelving the deal without arbitration proceedings being launched against the Czech state.

Tarnished tender

TI’s director David Ondráčka said the deal represented the biggest ever corruption risk in a public tender organized in the country with few safeguards written in the contract to ensure the best clean-up takes places and a high chance that the would-be competitor bidders get together to share out the work between themselves in a grubby cartel.  He said the original argument in favor of the massive tender that it would attract big European companies with experience of major clean-up operations had simply failed to materialize.

Prime Minister Petr Nečas (Civic Democrats, ODS) said last week that he would like to see the eco-tender scrapped, adding that he did not want a government headed by him to be responsible for a tender involving billions of crowns which was tainted by corruption.

The biggest champion of the tender has been Finance Minister Miroslav Kalousek (TOP 09) with the clear divisions over how to proceed with it likely to spark further rifts in the fragile three-way coalition government.

The tender covers 510 localities across the country with the pollution heritage dating back to the communist regime that collapsed at the end of 1989. Most of the pollution sites are attached to companies that have already been privatized with the state agreeing to pick up the tab for the clean-up a part of the deal with future owners.