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PM defends contracts for allies

Far from being embarrassed by the Labor Ministry’s awarding of Sk400 million (€13 million) in subsidies to four NGOs close to his Smer party, Prime Minister Robert Fico declared that such favoritism would continue to be a pillar of his government’s policy.

(Source: ČTK)

Far from being embarrassed by the Labor Ministry’s awarding of Sk400 million (€13 million) in subsidies to four NGOs close to his Smer party, Prime Minister Robert Fico declared that such favoritism would continue to be a pillar of his government’s policy.

“We will not consider it unacceptable if, in the case of two equal projects of the same quality and with the same final effect, a minister gives preference to a [village or town] mayor who supports the ruling coalition,” Fico said during a political talk show in late August.

“We won’t let the media, which has clearly taken over the role of the political opposition, terrorize us just because we do not intend to disadvantage our members, sympathizers and mayors of towns and villages.”

Fico’s defense of his political allies was seen as an excuse for corruption in public procurement. “The statements de facto sanction cronyism,” said Zuzana Wienk, director of the political ethics watchdog Fair Play Alliance. “He elevated something that society must fight to a norm, and he did so as a high political representative.”

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