No-bid invoice deal draws complaint

The finance ministry’s controversial selection of a firm to run the proposed electronic invoicing system has drawn a formal complaint.

The Ministerio de Hacienda said Thursday that the Cámara de Tecnologías de Información y Comunicación had filed a formal complaint with the  Comisión para Promover la Competencia.

The ministry, which includes the tax collecting agency, picked the Empresa de Servicios Públicos de Heredia to run the proposed invoicing system.  Invoices are called facturas in Costa Rica, and the plan is to have many companies run their bookkeeping through the tax agency, which could then keep an eye on the businesses. The tax collectors are trying to cut down on fraud.

Naturally the concept is controversial in many ways. But the finance ministry did not hold a public bidding process for the selection of the firm that would run the project. Instead, officials used an obscure rule that said they would not have to have a public bidding process as long as the deals were made with other public agencies.

The Heredia firm is the public utility provider and has vast experience in billing and data processing.

The ministry defended the direct contract award Thursday and said the entire process was open to public view. The ministry officials did what they did to expedite the project. However, formal legal action may follow.

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