Government dismisses Záhumenský from State Secretary's Office

THE SLOVAK government on November 8 officially dismissed Agriculture Ministry state secretary Marian Záhumenský, who resigned from the office on October 31.

Záhumenský resigned after being accused by opposition parties of abusing his office by changing regulations in order to increase EU subsidies for the tobacco grower Agrocontract Mikuláš, in which Záhumenský is a shareholder and where his wife is a member of the supervisory board.

After the November 8 government session in Bratislava's Hotel Bôrik, Prime Minister Robert Fico reiterated that Smer is considering three to four candidates for the vacant state secretary position and that some are members of the party's caucus, though the post will probably go to someone who does not enjoy the immunity of an MP, TASR wrote.

The deadline for selecting and introducing the candidate is the beginning of the December session of parliament, which is scheduled for December 5, said the premier.

Záhumenský's dismissal was sparked by former agriculture minister Zsolt Simon (a Hungarian Coalition Party MP), who blew the whistle on the rule change for providing subsidies for tobacco growers in October, highlighting how Agrocontract stood to gain through the Záhumenský initiative. Fico responded by turning to Brussels, namely to EU Commissioner for Agriculture Mariann Fischer Boel, with an inquiry as to whether abuse of office had occurred according to EU legislation.

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