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Finance minister criticises health debts company

FINANCE Minister Ján Počiatek has criticised the last government’s process for settling health sector debts through Veriteľ, suggesting there may have been corruption.

FINANCE Minister Ján Počiatek has criticised the last government’s process for settling health sector debts through Veriteľ, suggesting there may have been corruption.

At its session on June 18, parliament considered a Finance Ministry report based on an investigation into the activities of Veriteľ. The previous government of Mikuláš Dzurinda launched the state-run joint-stock company to settle debts in the health care system, the SITA newswire wrote.

Minister Počiatek says that rules for the company's operation were not clearly formulated and the whole process was not clearly analysed or prepared. He said that the company was established in a hasty and complicated way and objected to the fact that it employed only a few people while handling funds of around Sk20 billion. He also said there were no detailed steps for how the settlement process would work. The minister blamed the Dzurinda government for the company's operation, challenging the effectiveness of debt settlement. Počiatek also criticised the archiving of documentation, saying Veriteľ did not hand over important records to the relevant archive of the Interior Ministry. The minister said he regards the liquidation of the company as suspicious. He said he thought it was the fastest liquidation of a company of its size in Slovakia’s history.

The report states that from a short-term perspective, the establishment of Veriteľ could be considered positively. However, from a long-term perspective, the company failed to definitively settle old debts, and those with state healthcare providers are still increasing.

Former finance minister Ivan Mikloš dismissed his successor’s criticisms, identifying what he said were a string of factual errors in the report and describing it as a “fig leaf” to disguise the present administration’s inability to govern as well as what he called its corrupt background.

Veriteľ was wound up in February 2006 after it had settled debts created in the healthcare sector up
to the end of 2004. It had Sk20.13 billion at its disposal for debt settlement.

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