Prices for benches for Euro 2012 grossly inflated: report

Monday, December 27, 2010

KIEV - Ukrainian officials bought wooden park benches at grossly inflated prices as part of the country’s preparations for the Euro 2012 football championship, according to news reports.

A senior manager at the National Agency for Preparation and Holding in Ukraine UEFA Euro 2012 signed off on the purchase of 10 benches for the underground in the eastern city Kharkiv at a price tag of $7,900 a bench, the 1+1 television channel reported.

The circular wooden benches would normally cost between $500 and $600, according to a furniture manufacturer cited in the report.

Anatoly Kravchiuk, a Kharkiv city official, told reporters the higher price paid by the government was justified by the benches’ “unique form of construction”, according to a video posted on the YouTube website.

A spokeswoman at the National Agency for Preparation and Holding in Ukraine UEFA Euro 2012 when contacted by telephone declined comment on the 1+1 report, saying she had not seen it.

Ukraine has struggled to prepare for Euro 2012 because of financing shortages and government infighting. Opponents of the government have alleged cost overruns and embezzlement have cost taxpayers millions, usually without providing proof.

Yulia Tymoshenko, a former prime minister, on Monday in a typical charge alleged renovations to Kiev’s Olympic stadium have been artificially inflated by as much as $280 million, according to an Interfax news agency report.

The park bench scandal was a rare case of independent Ukrainian media offering hard evidence of possible government impropriety in preparing for Euro 2012.

The UEFA in 2007 named Poland and Ukraine tournament co-hosts.

The former Soviet republic since then has managed to put into operation two of the four stadiums needed for games.

Hotel room shortages, Soviet-style airports, badly-maintained intercity roads, and poor customer service traditions continue to be problems in Ukraine’s Euro 2012 preparation effort.

Filed under: Football

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