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Air Power Illegalities Result in Fine

The Court of Auditors (TdC) has discovered illegalities in the contract to acquire a fire fighting air service to fight forest fires in Madeira in 2020, and points to the payment of a fine of 2,550 euros by the Regional Government.

In a statement, the TdC says:

“With the payment of the fine, for the minimum amount of 2,550.00 euros, the procedure for the execution of the penalty responsibility is extinguished.”

The Court of Auditors clarifies that the audit aimed at the clearance of financial responsibilities indicated in the supervision of the contract for the acquisition of an air medium (light helicopter) for forest fire fighting, concluded on the 15th of May 2020, between the Regional Civil Protection Service of Madeira and the commercial society Trabalhos e Transporte.

The contracted amount was 460,000 euros, but the TdC refused to give the go-ahead because it detected “illegalities” that could “configure an illicit generator of financial liability sanctioning.”

The authority explains that the award to Heliportugal, S.A. occurred when the company was “caused by the impediment to participation in pre-contractual procedures contemplated in the Public Procurement Code”.

“One of the impediments was made known only to the contracting authority in the presentation of the qualification documents (and their recommendation was therefore not requested in due course), which makes it possible to conclude that Heliportugal, S.A., made false statements when submitting the respective tender.”

He adds: “This fact, because it calls into question, first of all, the good faith of the candidate, coupled with the lack of proof of rehabilitation measures, should have prevented the re-upheaved of this impediment and determined the expiry of the award”.

The Court of Auditors states that the payment of a fine of 2,550 euros by the Regional Government (PSD/CDS-PP), and the members of the jury of the competition will extinguish the penalty procedure.

On the other hand, it recommends to the Regional Secretary of Health and Civil Protection, Pedro Ramos, to observe the “injunctive norms” that make up the regulatory legal framework of the causes of non-participation in pre-contractual procedures contemplated in the Public Procurement Code in the award of future contracts.

The authority advises that it should only be awarded to entities that are in a legal position to participate in them and that, in the event of any impediment, their removal shall take into account the time at which it is requested by the entity concerned and whether the application made complies with the criteria laid down.

To the members of the jury and the Regional Civil Protection Service, the Court of Auditors recommends that they take into account all injunctive rules, ensuring that only the award is proposed to entities that are legally able to participate in public procurement procedures.

Samantha Gannon

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