Luxembourgh Times

Dieschbourg to fix law after waste contract draws ire

€100-million contract given out to private company lacked a proper basis in law

Environment Minister Carole Dieschbourg

Environment Minister Carole Dieschbourg © Photo credit: Guy Wolff

Environment Minister Carole Dieschbourg will create a legal basis for a €100 million contract four years after the government awarded it to a waste disposal company in a controversy lawmakers grilled her over on Monday.

A law governing the SuperDrecksKëscht (SDK) initiative - under which Luxembourg paid Oeko-Service Luxembourg (OSL) close to €10 million a year until 2028 - did not meet the stringent criteria that a project of this size and duration required, parliament's research service said last week.

The contract between the state and the firm was "null and void", the unit found, causing an outcry amongst parliamentarians, and prompting Monday's closed-door examination by a committee of lawmakers.

The government is now retroactively drafting a law to give a legal basis to the 2018 contract, Dieschbourg - a politician for the Green party - said at a press conference on Monday. If parliament goes along with the plan, OSL would continue to receive taxpayer money until the contract lapses.

The government had not wanted to bring the lucrative initiative to tender again, as it might have run the risk of being sued by OSL, which collects dangerous and chemical waste on behalf of the administration, Dieschbourg said.

The 2018 contract with OSL, which has been carrying out the SDK initiative since the 1990s, first became the source of controversy after the investigative website Reporter criticised the public tender for being tailored towards the private company, describing close links between the director of the public administration and the head of the company.

In September, Dieschbourg presented the results of a review she had tasked an audit firm with in the wake of the story. The report, which fell short of a full legal audit, highlighted issues around conflicts of interest and financing, even though Dieschbourg claimed it did not confirm any "irregularities".