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PM relaxed over misuse of ministerial perks

Prime Minister Robert Fico did not officially reprimand his ministers at a cabinet session on April 4 when he banned them from using ministerial perks for family purposes, the SITA newswire wrote.

After the cabinet session, he reminded them that in light of the social situation of people in Slovakia, they should use the benefits associated with their office sensitively.

His words met with various reactions. Culture Minister Marek Maďarič did not notice any warning. Interior Minister Robert Kaliňák heard that they should take a sensitive approach towards these issues. Agriculture Minister Miroslav Jureňa saw that the Prime Minister raised his finger.

Justice Minister Štefan Harabin, whose family stirred the scandal by using a ministerial car, reiterated that he did not breach any law. He said he did not know anything about any warning, and he was leaving the cabinet's session in a good mood and with braided willow cane in his hand - a Slovak symbol of Easter.

Jureňa said he does not see any problem with ministers' families using ministerial cars.

"I would not devote such attention to this topic," he said. "Let's take a managerial look at the whole issue. During socialism we were taught theories that a manager, which the minister actually is, should be granted such benefits, which help him concentrate better on his job of being the minister and not think about affairs like when and what to buy." He added that when he comes home late in the evening tired and his wife has to arrange some affairs, his wife uses his official car.

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