Slovakia’s parliament dismissed six members of the council of the Slovak Land Fund (SPF) on December 3 who were nominated for their posts by the Government as well as another three members nominated by the governing coalition in parliament, the TASR newswire reported.
The other representatives in the council who were from the opposition in parliament in the 11-member council - Richard Hamerlík from the Hungarian Coalition Party (SMK) and Dagmar Valuchová from the Christian Democratic Party (KDH) party - gave up their posts in the council earlier.
The change in SPF management was due to a new scandal surrounding transfer of land in Veľká Lomnica and Stará Lesná, where, according to Prime Minister Robert Fico, all those holding responsibility at SPF failed. On December 2, the government dismissed SPF general director Miroslav Mihálik (a Smer nominee) and his deputy Adrian Sandorčin (Movement for Democratic Slovakia, HZDS) from their posts in accordance with a proposal submitted by Agriculture Minister Vladimír Chovan (HZDS).
The SPF council, made up of 11 members chosen and dismissed by parliament, supervises the activities of the fund which is responsible for restituting land seized by the state from private owners. Six Council members were appointed by the government while the other five were selected based on the principle of proportional representation from the parties in Parliament.
The Sme daily reported on December 1 that the SPF director and his deputy signed a contract in September 2009 under which restituents from eastern Slovakia became owners of 1.6 million square meters of land in Veľká Lomnica and Stará Lesná. According to Sme daily, the restituents then sold most of the lucrative land at a bargain price to a company called GVM, which is allegedly close to HZDS chairman Vladimír Mečiar.
Mečiar rejected claims that he was associated with any private company. Fico on Thursday, giving a speech at parliament, dismissed the notion that he could be connected to the scandal. The media reported that Fico's cousin Jaroslav Rybanský also works at SPF but Fico says he has no influence on SPF's decisions.
He said that he has the authority to order the Agriculture Minister to recall the SPF director and deputy director from their posts and that this government keeps itself in check. Fico added that he sees no reason to allow the opposition to hold itself up as any kind of example of how to govern. TASR
Compiled by Zuzana Vilikovská from press reports
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