Slovak President Ivan Gašparovič recalled Environment Minister Ján Chrbet on the morning of May 6 based on a proposal by Prime Minister Robert Fico. Education Minister Ján Mikolaj will temporarily manage the Environment Ministry. This is the eighth personnel change in Robert Fico's cabinet since June 2006 and the junior member of the ruling coalition, the Slovak National Party (SNS), has now lost its third minister, the SITA newswire wrote.
Chrbet said be accepts the Prime Minister's decision but that he is not aware of any violations of the law. The PM decided to sack the minister after Chrbet asked the cabinet to decide whether to cancel a controversial contract selling excess carbon dioxide emission quotas to a US company, Interblue Group.
The fact that Chrbet wanted to transfer the matter that he was responsible for as a minister to the cabinet made the PM angry. Fico said that Chrbet wanted to avoid responsibility. He also said he expects the new minister to eliminate all doubts about the sale of emission quotas, reported SITA.
Chrbet did not agree to publish the sales contract, claiming that Interblue Group refused to grant approval for that. Opposition parties, as well as the PM himself, had called on Chrbet to make the contract public.
According to Fico, Slovakia sold the excess emission quotas for over Sk2 billion (about €70 million) and that this money was to be used for residential thermal insulation projects. Minister Chrbet quantified the proceeds from the sale at €75 million (Sk2.3 billion).
The opposition criticized this as a low price for the sale of emission quotas. It claims that the ministry sold quotas to an unknown company at a lower price than other countries had sold their excess quotas. The strongest opposition party, SDKÚ, has initiated an inquiry by MPs at the Environment Ministry in order to review the quota sale and it will take place on May 7.
Fico stressed that he did not recall Minister Chrbet based on whether the contract on sale of the excess carbon dioxide emissions quota was good or bad, because he said this is still to be determined and that he expects the new minister to do this. SITA
Compiled by Zuzana Vilikovská from press reports
The Slovak Spectator cannot vouch for the accuracy of the information presented in its Flash News postings.
6. May 2009 at 14:00