Ministry of Finance Contests Ferry Tender Results ({{commentsTotal}})

Captain Andrus Saat (hat) and first officer Aidar Leesmäe walk the auto deck of their ferry at Rohuküla harbor. Source: (Liis Treimann/Scanpix)

The Ministry of Finance says that the results of the much fought-over ferry tender should be declared null and void.

The Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications announced on Tuesday that the Port of Tallinn, a state-owned company, won the tender to service domestic ferry routes between the mainland and the two largest Estonian islands, Saaremaa and Hiiumaa, for the next decade.

However, the Ministry of Finance said this morning that the final decision by which the Port of Tallinn was chosen as the new service provider, a plan which the government hoped to save 60 million euros over the next 10 years, should be annulled.

Its main criticism is that the first bid of the current provider Väinamere Liinid was unfairly disqualified and the decision to carry out the procurement by direct negotiations was made too hastily.

The document sent to Minister of Economic Affairs Urve Palo, who was responsible for the tender, said: "The violation [of the tender protocol] is fundamental and lasting and could not be eliminated or terminated in the later phases of the tender."

A press officer of the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications told that the document that the Ministry of Finance sent them is not an order to declare the tender void but a draft of the monitoring results.

"We will present our objections and arguments and the dispute committee will not make a decision for another few weeks," the press officer said.

The head of the procurement commission, Jaak Kaabel, said the bid made by the Port of Tallinn was much cheaper than that of the current operator Väinamere Liinid, and also offered newer ferries.

Väinamere Liinid has said it is a conflict of interest that ministry staff - which supervise the state-owned Port of Tallinn, the winner of the contract - were deciding the result of the procurement, and that this is in violation of public procurement and competition laws. The ministry counters that there are no other qualified specialists to handle the procurement.

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