12 March 2010 | Carly Chynoweth
The Czech government should overhaul public procurement regulations to stem corruption and help restore foreign suppliers’ interest in bidding for contracts, a US business group has said.
The American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham) in the Czech Republic has launched a campaign to encourage the country’s political parties to formulate legislation requiring that public contracts be awarded fairly.
“We are trying to put together a law that sets out the principles for tenders and public procurement,” AmCham board member Erik Best told Czech radio station Radio Praha, which described the move as “highly unusual”.
Best continued: “That means that the government and politicians would commit to pass a law that would very specifically say that tenders need to be fair, the owners of companies that bid need to be known, and the process is very transparent.”
But, referencing the level of corruption, Best said he does not expect the proposed changes to be popular with everyone. “We are talking about billions of crowns that are going missing,” he said. “There will be opposition from those who will not want to give up access to that amount of money, so it is not going to be an easy battle.”
So far, political party the Greens have been supportive, but others have been more hesitant.
“I think it [hesitancy] is to be expected. It has come out of the blue to an extent and I suppose there might be a reason for them not to be so excited about passing such a law,” Best said.
The Czech Republic was placed 52nd out of 180 countries ranked for corruption (one being the best, 180 the worst) in Transparency International’s latest annual corruption index, scoring 4.9 out of a possible 10. The anti-corruption organisation says public contracts in the country “suffer from considerable lack of transparency, leading to major losses in public funds”.