Doubts over other contracts of company in the centre of ‘army utensils’ scandal

Carabiners. Photo wikimedia

The company Nota Bene, which has gained notoriety for its involvement in the so-called army utensils scandal, continues to appear in controversial public procurement contracts, DELFI reports.

In one of them, the State Service for Protected Areas (VSTT) under the Ministry of Environment made an order for carabiners worth €7,000. With a total of 252 carabiners being purchased, averaging €28 each (or 23 without VAT), it is not only unclear as to why the equipment was purchased, but also such a price is, according to DELFI, above the market value which is often below €20.

The carabiners are the largest component of a purchase worth nearly €35,000. The equipment is to reach 22 parks around the country, with each assigned 12 or 24 carabiners. The directors of various parks around the country can only shrug their shoulders regarding the matter, not being aware of any plans involving carabiners or what purpose the purchase is intended for, nor that are they supposed to be receiving them.

The Director of Meteliai Regional Park Ramūnas Krugelis was surprised to discover his park was supposed to receive such equipment and lamented that the money was not used to buy more useful kits. “We definitely did not request them and they are not relevant for us. We are more concerned with other things: being provided with bicycles sooner, other camping gear, pots, while those carabiners… Of course they would come in useful, we’ll figure out what to do.”

The Director of VSTT Albertas Stanislovaitis shed further light on the carabiners, noting that the ones purchased are not the type used in mountaineering, but instead ones intended for camping. Nevertheless, when asked about the price tag, he showed surprise. “What was the price of the carabiners? €23 without VAT? €7,000 just for carabiners? This is the case, since this is a purchase we have been having trouble with and neither the goods are delivered yet, nor are they paid for yet. As such, I cannot comment further for now. Three companies are participating in the procurement order,” he commented.

Stanislovaitis later received further documentation and noted that the contract with Nota Bene may be cancelled. He elaborated that the carabiners were to be used for an educational project named “Development of ecology education in nature preserve territory” and would have been subject to high security standards as they were to be used for children’s education.

Nevertheless, the product price was too high and the contract was granted to Nota Bene because they offered the lowest overall price, with their nearest competitor offering to sell the equipment for roughly €45,000.

The decision was based on the total procurement cost, not on individual items. Nevertheless, Stanislovaitis concluded that the contract may be cancelled because some of the supplies provided ended up not meeting the requirements of the procurement order.

Nota Bene is the company that sold kitchen utensils to the Lithuanian army for a price that was eight times their market value, according to a recent report by the Public Procurement Office. Defence Minister Juozas Olekas has been under pressure to resign over the contract.

DELFI

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