Slovakia’s new construction minister, Igor Štefanov, has survived a no-confidence motion proposed by parliamentary opposition parties.
Of 140 deputies present, 61 voted for his dismissal, 76 were against, one did not vote and two abstained from the vote. At least 76 votes would have been necessary to remove the minister, the SITA newswire wrote. The leader of junior coalition party the Movement for A Democratic Slovakia (HZDS), Vladimír Mečiar, who described the so-called bulletin-board tender - which brought down Štefanov’s predecessor, Marian Janušek, and in which Štefanov himself was closely involved - as “cronyism as big as Brno or London,” was absent from parliament during the vote.
Ján Slota, the leader of the Slovak National Party (SNS), the other junior coalition party, and which nominated both Štefanov and Janušek, claimed neither minister had made any mistake in the tender.
The sole bidder in the dubious tender – which was advertised, for a short period only, solely on an internal notice board at the Construction Ministry - was a consortium comprising the Zamedia and Avocat companies, which are both said to be close to Slota. An audit carried out by the Public Procurement Office (ÚVO) showed that the tender had violated the public procurement law. A separate investigation by the Supreme Audit Office (NKÚ) is still being finalised. The tender is also being examined by the European Commission. The case could end at the European Court of Justice and if Slovakia is found to have contravened European Union (EU) treaties it may have to return EU funds it has already received. SITA
Compiled by Zuzana Vilikovská from press reports
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22. Apr 2009 at 14:00