A MAN WHOSE ability to land plum positions is equalled only by the unevenness of his record while occupying them has just been offered yet another. Dušan Muňko, currently State Secretary at the Environment Ministry, is to become the new director of social security provider Sociálna Poisťovňa, the cabinet decided at its session on August 20.
Two years ago, Muňko was the subject of protests by environmentalists and NGOs who objected to his Environment Ministry appointment. They pointed out that he had been an agent of the communist-era secret police, the ŠtB, and more recently had faced serious allegations over illegal breeding of endangered species of exotic parrots.
In 2002, when Muňko was director general of Satur, the country's largest travel agency, police searched his home. They discovered 25 protected parrots, including five of an endangered species.
He was unable to produce any documents stating how or when he had obtained the birds. According to Slovak law, any person without identification documents and a certificate granting permission for import or legal purchase of such animals is committing a crime. At the time, Muňko was also an MP and he twice faced demands to have his parliamentary immunity lifted. However, the efforts failed and his criminal prosecution did not proceed.
Muňko replaces Ivan Bernátek, who left his post on August 21. Prime Minister Robert Fico ordered Bernátek’s dismissal following an inspection day at Sociálna Poisťovňa in late June. Fico gave no specific reasons for the move but did criticise him for inactivity, saying that the social insurer had been stabilised thanks to the efforts of the labour minister rather than Bernátek. However, Labour Minister Viera Tomanová had not previously voiced any objections to Bernátek's work.
25. Aug 2008 at 0:00 | Compiled by James Thomson from press reports