Prime Minister Robert Fico said on Tuesday, March 9, that he would ask Construction and Regional Development Minister Igor Štefanov (Slovak National Party, SNS) to step down on Wednesday due to failures that the country's Supreme Audit Office (NKÚ) has found in the use of funds spent under the so-called bulletin-board tender.
He added that he expects Štefanov to ask President Ivan Gašparovič on Wednesday to be recalled from his ministerial post. The ministry is now set to be run by Education Minister Ján Mikolaj (also an SNS nominee). Fico said that he doesn't expect the SNS to propose a new nominee for the post, describing such a move as pointless and noting that the Construction Ministry is among those that will cease to exist as stand-alone ministries as of July 1.
Allegations of financial impropriety over the bulletin-board tender, which dates back to 2007, had prompted opposition parties to seek Štefanov's ouster in parliament on several occasions. However, each of the three no-confidence votes they initiated ended in failure after MPs from the governing parties backed Štefanov. His predecessor as minister was forced out over the affair last year, but Štefanov then became a target of criticism because he himself had occupied a senior ministry position and had been involved in the tender prior to his nomination as minister.
The Supreme Audit Office (NKÚ) reiterated on Monday that failures were made and that the law was broken in the tender. In its report, the NKÚ questioned the use of almost €4 million. Štefanov is likely to comply with Fico’s request and step down on Wednesday, ministry spokesperson Linda Vaškovičová told the TASR newswire later on Tuesday. TASR
For more information on the bulletin-board tender case, please see: NKÚ begins inspection into bulletin-board tender at Slovak Construction Ministry.
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10. Mar 2010 at 10:00