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Parliamentary committee approves MPs’ inquiry at Slovak Education Ministry

Members of the Parliamentary Committee for Education, Youth, Science and Sport will conduct an MPs’ inquiry at the Education Ministry next week, beginning June 15.

Members of the Parliamentary Committee for Education, Youth, Science and Sport will conduct an MPs’ inquiry at the Education Ministry next week, beginning June 15.

Deputies for the ruling coalition, who have a majority in the committee, allowed the inquiry – which was initiated by opposition parties – to go ahead, with nine out of ten committee members present voting in favour of it. Slovak National Party (SNS) deputy Valentín Švidroň abstained from voting. The opposition tabled the inquiry proposal after media reports that Education Minister Ján Mikolaj (an SNS nominee) had approved a project co-financed from EU Funds submitted by his schoolmate Marián Kováčik, the SITA newswire wrote.

The deputies decided to begin their inquiry at the ministry itself and then to decide, based on their findings, whether to pursue it in institutions directly managed by the ministry. The deputies want to check if the ministry transparently manages state funds as well as EU funds, and look into its success rate in drawing EU funds.

The Pravda daily reported at the end of May 2009 that the Consulting-Education company, owned by Marián Kováčik, was awarded two contracts from ministerial organisations – the Academia Istropolitana and the State Professional Education Institute. The firm was reportedly paid almost €1.6 million under the contracts. The daily reported that it has an official record according to which Kováčik arranged a deal for his company at Academia Istropolitana and during the process allegedly mentioned his association with Minister Mikolaj. The minister allegedly appointed two members of the commission at Academia Istropolitana, which chose the winning firm, saying: “It has been agreed upon with Ján, we will make sure that he is satisfied, that he will support us, we will come to terms,” according to the record, dated October 2007, cited by Pravda.

Mikolaj said he does not know which Ján is referred to in that sentence. He stressed that no public procurement rules were breached in the tenders, since unsuccessful bidders did not file any complaints. He also said that the announcement of the tender was made in the Public Procurement Bulletin, as well as in the EU Official Journal. SITA

Compiled by Zuzana Vilikovská from press reports
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