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Karácsony on Chain Bridge Tender: Gov’t Body Rejection No Surprise

Ábrahám Vass 2020.08.05.

“Given the current political situation, the real surprise would have been if the government authority had approved the bid,” the mayor of Budapest commented on Facebook after the Public Procurement Authority (KH) rejected to accept the tender documents of the renovation of Budapest’s iconic Chain Bridge citing content errors.

KH rejected the publication of the Budapest Tranpsort Center’s (BKK) bid for the Chain Bridge refurbishment in reference to a government decree from 2015 that stipulates eight years of reference period.

According to Karácsony, however, the original tender is sound, a result of in-depth legal and professional work. He disagreed with the KH’s requirement to reduce the number of years from ten to eight for which potential bidders could provide references for their previous work. In Karácsony’s view, it hinders competition as it narrows the field of bidders for the project, as there weren’t any bridge renovations carried out in Budapest over the past eight years, meaning that none of the bidders will be able to provide references to previous projects they had worked on. (Liberal HVG notes, that interestingly, Margaret Bridge’s renovation had been concluded 9 years ago, making the contractors -A-Híd, Lajos Simicska‘s former company Közgép and Strabag- unable to apply).

The project’s urgency, however, means that the city council had “no choice” but to incorporate the authority’s instructions into the tender, Karácsony said.

Karácsony also noted that despite having promised to do so back in February, the government had yet to issue a resolution on the amount of funding it will allocate to the project.

He speculated that the true reason behind the events is political, as for the government “it is more important who will do the refurbishment than the refurbishment itself.”

Later, on ATV, he further unfolded this line of thinking and said that “we wanted to have as many applicant companies as possible,” explaining that “anyone who is familiar with the Hungarian construction industry knows exactly that there is Lőrinc Mészáros, Lőrinc Mészáros and partners, and Lőrinc Mészáros and Son,” he argued in reference to the fast-emerging, Orbán-ally billionaire. “(…) however, this job needs to be done,” he concluded.

KH: we are not a governmental body

In reaction, KH pointed out that it only complied with the laws when making the decision. It called the “the claims that arose in the press” unfounded, stressing that compliance with the law is not a matter of choice.

The body has also insisted that it wasn’t a governmental body, explaining that it has been operating as an independent public administration institution for 25 years now.

BKK: KH decision ‘regrettable’ but won’t cause delays

BKK was of the same opinion as Karácsony and said it regrets KH’s decision and disagrees with it. They, however, claimed that the Directorial Board fulfilled the requirements at a recent meeting, and as a result it wouldn’t cause any delay in the works.

featured image via Zsolt Szigetváry/MTI