The British government is the subject of increasing criticism during the pandemic for controversial public contract awards that show obvious favoritism and are tarnishing the reputation of officials.
“I think that, compared to Britain a decade ago, a level of corruption is unprecedented,” said Emily Barritt, a professor of law at King’s College London, interviewed by AFP.
The sudden resignation of Health Minister Matt Hancock at the end of June is the latest in a controversial recruitment following revelations that he was in an extramarital affair with Gina Colladangelo, whom he hired as his adviser.
Hancock was already involved in other obscure public contracts linked to the fight against COVID-19, most notably for the manufacture of test tubes worth £30 million (over $41 million), awarded without tenders to an inexperienced company. was done. .
The Daily Telegraph newspaper claims that another contract, for £28 million, was awarded to a company whose directors were Coldanzello’s brother.
Another member of Boris Johnson’s Conservative government, Michael Gove, convicted of illegally awarding a £560,000 contract to Public First, an opinion polling firm, without calling for bids, related to Cummings, an adviser to former prime minister Dominic was ordained.
– “Cronyism Problems” –
Faced with these “big brotherhood problems”, the Labor opposition calls for an independent investigation.
According to Daniel Fischer, a researcher at City University, the pandemic allowed “even more relaxation” of rules that were already too flexible, for public contracts, “through shady concessions in the framework of emergency supplies.”
The health ministry, contacted by AFP, said it is “wrong to say that we have relaxed supply rules. We have strict rules (…) and ministers have no role in these processes.”
In cases of force majeure, the government has the right not to call bids, but must publish the terms of the contracts legally awarded, something it has not done in many cases.
According to the NGO Good Law Project, which launched the lawsuit against the executive, expenses related to public contracts involving Covid-19 reached at least 17,000 million pounds sterling between April and November 2020, but not more than a quarter. got to know.
LPG refers to “dangerous” contracts, which are often awarded to companies without any prior experience. In several examples he cited Ayanda Capital, a company linked to commerce minister Liz Truss, which won a £252 million contract to provide protective masks to hospitals, which were found to be worthless.
Anti-corruption association Transparency International (TI) indicated in a report in April that “the way the British government handled tenders for personal protective equipment (… seems biased”, especially among conservatives.
“While this was possible at the start of the pandemic, when countries were struggling to obtain health resources, this justification has long been obsolete,” a spokesman for Oenage told AFP.
Experts say that it is always possible to initiate fast and transparent tenders. They cite Sweden, Slovakia, Estonia and Latvia as examples.
According to TI’s Steve Goodrich, Ukraine has published its COVID-related public contracts “within 24 hours”.