Price-fixing ploy for Meson Gitano revamp

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ALCAZABA: Ancient caves to be turned into a municipal social centre.

TWO construction companies were each fined €35,000 for presenting identical offers for the Meson Gitano contract.

Bids were invited by Almeria City’s ‘Almeria Urban’ municipally-owned company to submit plans and an estimate for rehabilitating Meson Gitano and the immediately-adjoining area.

City hall intends to turn ancient caves and the site of the demolished Meson Gitano hotel located below the Alcazaba into a municipal social centre.  Two firms – Salcoa and Facto – put in bids with identical plans drawn up by the same architect and which differed only in cost.

An investigation into the tenders by the Andalucian government’s Defence of Competition Committee was launched at the request of a suspicious city hall in 2013.  The committee has now decided that the firms agreed to compete with each other only regarding price and not quality or specifications.

This was possible because both used the same architect who warned them at the time that their bids were likely to be scrutinised. He has now been fined €1,500. 

In the event, the contract went to Facto which put in a €5.364 million bid compared to Salcoa’s €6.542 million.  

“The rival firms’ cooperation agreement was clearly developed with the object of reducing costs,” the Competion Committee decided.

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