By: Sara Bertoncelj / Nova24tv
The government of Robert Golob is refusing to fulfil its contractual obligations of payment – which is completely unacceptable, especially for a Member State of the European Union. We are referring to the panel fence that was the subject of a public tender between the government of Marjan Šarec and the then-Director of the Police, Tatjana Bobnar, and the contract for it was signed with the contractor in September last year. When the new government took office, the contractor was informed that the Republic of Slovenia no longer needed the panel fence and that it proposed to conclude an agreement to cancel the contract – but the company did not agree to this, as the contract was a result of public procurement. The panel fence has already been delivered to the border, but to date, the Ministry of the Interior has not paid the contractor anything and, moreover, has not even agreed to pay anything. This has resulted in damages of at least 1.8 million euros for the company Maxi Bau d.o.o and its subcontractor LEGI – SGS d.o.o., and now the two companies are even facing possible bankruptcy.
When the government changed this year, the company Maxi Bau was informed that it would get a new guardian, but a week later, they were informed that the Republic of Slovenia no longer had a need for the panel fence and that it was proposing to enter into an agreement to cancel the contract. The company did not agree to this. The fence was custom ordered specifically for the needs of the Republic of Slovenia. And even if the state had decided not to erect the panel fence on its borders – which it has every right to do, but of course, with all the consequences of its decision – this cannot be to the detriment of the company, which has fulfilled the contract signed with the Republic of Slovenia. Instead, the state must pay for the costs incurred by its actions. It is also important to note that the tender was drawn up during the government of Marjan Šarec, who is now the Minister of Defence, and the then-Director of the Police, Tatjana Bobnar, who is the current Minister of the Interior. These are the same people as before – which could lead one to believe that the only thing that actually bothers the government of Robert Golob is the fact that the contract was signed during the government of Janez Janša.
As a result of the breach of the contractual provisions and the knowledge of the intention to terminate the contract of the Republic of Slovenia tender for the erection of temporary technical barriers on the southern border of the Republic of Slovenia, the company Maxi Bau d.o.o. and its subcontractor LEGi – SGS d.o.o. have suffered damages of at least 1.8 million euros. It is clear from the communications received so far, which in no way follow the contractual provision, that the current Government of the Republic of Slovenia is not interested in the rule of law or in respecting the contracts that have been signed. The contractor produced the entire 50 kilometres of the panel fence as stipulated in the contract – it is a fence with specific technical requirements and, as such, is not intended to be sold on the market – and after the change of government of the Republic of Slovenia, the Maxi Bau company was informed by the Ministry of the Interior that the client no longer had any need for the fence (37 kilometres of the panel fence had already been erected) – and all the people involved in the project, including the guardian of the contract, were removed from the project.
To date, the Ministry of the Interior has still not paid anything to the contractor for the termination of the contract As already mentioned, the unexpected decision has caused the contractor to suffer damages of at least 1.8 million euros, and the Republic of Slovenia does not want to agree to pay the damages, even though it has no legal basis to do so. The contracting authority rejected the last invoice for the goods ordered as late as on the 31st day after it was issued, on the ground that the contractor had sent an invoice for goods that had not been ordered, installed, or delivered. On the same day, the contractor received a reply from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, although it had already requested diplomatic intervention at the beginning of September – apparently, this is a coordinated action by the authorities against the contractor. On the 22nd of August, the Ministry of the Interior referred the contractor’s claims to the State Attorney’s Office – which has three months to reply, and the contractor can only bring an action against the state after it has received the reply in question. In the meantime, all of the documentation has been reviewed by the German Chamber of Commerce, where lawyers have concluded that the claim is fully justified – they do not understand why the Ministry of the Interior is refusing to pay.
No expert analysis has been carried out, which could be deemed a reason (basis) for the removal of the wire fence on the Slovenian southern border At the beginning of July this year, the contracting authority sent a notice to the contractor that the contract remained valid but that there was no longer any need for
the installation of the fence – and the contractor was to be informed of this 14 days prior. Only a few days later, at the proposal of the Ministry of the Interior, a decision was taken to stop the removal of the fence at the border. This made it impossible to fulfil the contract – the panel fence could only be erected after the barbed wire had been removed. Thus, it was not when the Robert Golob government began its term that the removal of the barbed wire started, as it is often portrayed. The tender documents stated that half of the fence would be erected in 2021 and the other half in 2022 and that the budget provided funds for the entire 50 kilometres of the fence. The government’s decision was supposedly taken on the basis of a security assessment and on the basis of consideration of the citizens’ initiative – which is actually not true at all. Namely, no security assessment has been carried out, and the decision of the Directorate for Police and Other Security Tasks, which operates within the Ministry of the Interior, stated that “After examining the request and verifying it, the authority has concluded that the requested documentation does not exist.” … “No expert analysis has been carried out as a reason (basis) for the removal of the wire fence at the Slovenian southern border.” The civil initiative was convened only four days after the government decision had already been taken.
There are more and more migrants coming to Slovenia, but the current government does not think that a panel fence is needed It is also worth noting the following: the Ministry of the Inferior has stated in its proposal for the termination of the contract that the Republic of Slovenia is not obliged under contract (in accordance with Article 3, 2nd paragraph) to procure the supply of goods and services for the total indicative contract value – but this cannot be an excuse for the government not to settle its contractual obligations, as the goods were already fully procured earlier this year – if only because the delivery period is six months. Thus, the panel fence has already been manufactured and delivered, but the Golob government decided to feign ignorance and claim that it does not need the fence. Another absurdity is to be found in the minutes of the 7th regular meeting of the Government of the Republic of Slovenia, held on the 8th of July – where the Ministry of the Interior stated that the fence was a temporary instrument used at a time when there were large-scale migration movements happening. “It is unacceptable that it should become a permanent element of border policy in a normal migration situation,” they added – implying that the migration wave has subsided in the meantime. But the figures show the opposite, with numbers of migrants rising at record levels. Bobnar has also consistently stressed that the barbed wire is inhumane and dangerous for both humans and animals and that it should be removed. It is therefore worth repeating once again that the removal of the barbed wire began under the Janez Janša government, and that it was being replaced by a panel fence, which is not a danger to anyone. The panel fence only helps prevent illegal migration, and migrants – as always – can still turn up at border crossings and ask for asylums. The police would not have to chase them down with helicopters, and the residents of the villages and towns through which they cross would not have to look through their windows every morning in fear of how many illegal migrants are waiting for them in their backyards.