Brussels, Sep 22 (EFE).- The Belgian Court of Auditors disputes that the Valencian architect Santiago Calatrava was awarded the construction of a station in the Belgian city of Mons, considering that he benefited from a starting advantage which distorted competition in the competition for which the project was selected.
In a report put forward by the Belgian media “Le Soir” and “RTBF”, the court points to irregularities and a lack of transparency in the public procurement of this project managed by the Belgian National Railway Company (SNCB), which has eight years. late and multiplied by ten the initial budget, to the tune of 332 million euros.
According to the Belgian auditors, from whom the country’s Parliament had asked for a report on the project, the designation of Santiago Calatrava as the winner of the competition whose construction was put out to competition in 2006 “suffers from shortcomings in terms of transparency and respect of the principle of equality and openness to competition.
This is due to the fact that in 2004, during the first proposal for the project, which then only consisted of building a footbridge connecting a square to the existing station of Mons, the Spanish architect was commissioned to carry out a study of feasibility for which he had access to data that would have given him an advantage over the other bidders two years later.
The Court of Auditors considers that the winner of the competition “could benefit from an advantage likely to distort competition. Given the lack of communication to all the candidates of the information exchanged within the framework of this study, which would have made it possible to restore a balance between them, the participation of this candidate should have been rejected”, according to the report quoted by the media. Belgians.
The court also sees problems related to the modifications that the project has undergone, which has gone from a footbridge budgeted at 37 million euros to the construction of a new multimodal station valued today at 332 million, and which does not were legally translated only in the clauses of the initial contract. contract, without opening new offers.
For the auditors, the modifications made to the initial contract “could have justified the launch of a new tender procedure”.
The court noted that the clauses added to the initial contract significantly extended the architectural services, that the modifications had a budgetary impact, and that they introduced conditions which “could perhaps have made it possible to choose another offer if they had been known from the start of the contract. “competition”.
The report also casts doubt on the transparency and control of the budget by stating that the data relating to it “had gaps”, that the changes are “poorly explained” and that the court could not obtain all the documents justifying each one. of the stages of the project, which he blames on Eurogare, a now defunct subsidiary of SNCB.
These documentation problems “do not allow the Court of Auditors to guarantee that it has been the subject of systematic monitoring and control or of sufficient transparency”, specifies the document quoted by RTBF.
From the Court of Auditors, they told Efe that the document quoted by the Belgian media had not yet been approved by the general assembly, which today adopted the final report which must be translated and sent to the Parliament before being published.