Crisis Looms Over Digitalization of Building Permits in Czech Republic

The deadline for digitalizing building permits in the Czech Republic is in jeopardy, with the Ministry for Local Development reaching for an emergency solution. The authorities had planned to enable citizens to handle their building permits digitally starting next July. Still, the Office for the Protection of Economic Competition has now canceled the selection procedure for the solution provider.

The Ministry, led by Ivan Bartoš (Pirate Party), is trying to salvage the timeline by awarding a contract worth 37 million crowns without competition. However, the Anti-Monopoly Office is currently investigating this action. Despite the controversy, the Ministry insists that the promised Builder’s Portal will launch on time. Developers and the political opposition, however, are skeptical.

The previous government had sought a contractor for the project, with an estimated cost of 1.9 billion crowns. Bartoš canceled the tender and announced a new one this year. In early June, the Ministry selected a contractor to carry out the project for 325 million crowns, excluding VAT. This tender has now been canceled.

In response, the Ministry resorted to an emergency measure, awarding the contract without competition to InQool from Komárov near Brno. They will only receive the primary system for a tenth of the price. “It’s a key part that the state cannot deliver itself. An order for 37 million crowns,” said spokesman Petr Waleczko. The first delivery is planned for the beginning of 2024. “Building authorities and the public will have the system available no later than June,” the spokesman added.

The crisis has drawn criticism from Tomáš Kadeřábek, director of the Association of Developers. “Digitalization was supposed to be an important part of changing construction law. It is another blow to a sector plagued by crisis,” he said. “Hopes that digitalization will be managed by the first of July 2024 are approaching zero,” he added. Developers are calling for a postponement of the effect of the amendment; otherwise, they say, problems are imminent.