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Smer to seek Uhliarik’s ouster at special session of parliament

The largest opposition party, Smer, will propose calling an extraordinary session of parliament in order to seek the dismissal of Health Minister Ivan Uhliarik (Christian Democratic Movement (KDH)), Smer leader and former premier Robert Fico told a press conference on Tuesday, January 19.

The largest opposition party, Smer, will propose calling an extraordinary session of parliament in order to seek the dismissal of Health Minister Ivan Uhliarik (Christian Democratic Movement (KDH)), Smer leader and former premier Robert Fico told a press conference on Tuesday, January 19.

Fico said that the move was spurred by the responses to recent reports about Uhliarik and pharmaceutical company Pfizer, Uhliarik’s former employer. It has been alleged that Uhliarik engaged in preferential treatment to the benefit of Pfizer in provision of pneumococcal vaccinations for children in Slovakia. According to Fico, Smer is surprised that the issue is being disregarded. Smer’s move was also encouraged by information that some MPs from the governing Freedom and Solidarity (SaS) and Most-Híd parties don’t share the view of Prime Minister Iveta Radičová (Slovak Democratic and Christian Union (SDKÚ)) on the matter.

The premier said after meeting Uhliarik on Monday that she continues to trust the minister. “The ministry decided in the public interest and in line with the law – so that both vaccines were available and, as prescribed, covered fully by health insurers on the Slovak market; and at the same time the costs for the health insurers could be lowered,” the TASR newswire was told by a Government Office spokesperson on Monday.

Hence, Smer is intent on bringing up the issue of ‘favouritism in the public interest’ that it claims has been ushered in by Radičová in order to save the current government. “What Mrs Prime Minister did is inexcusable,” Fico said, adding that he is intrigued to see Most-Híd and SaS MPs’ stances on the issue.

Smer also wants to use the proposed session to address the overall situation in the health-care sector. “We’re planning to submit the sheet with the required 30 signatures of MPs in a timeframe that will lay the groundwork for the extraordinary session to be summoned during parliament’s regular session – that is on February 2 or 3,” said Fico.

Radičová's spokesman Rado Baťo said that both the prime minister and Uhliarik are ready for the session. “We’ll be happy to discuss with the opposition the state in which the Slovak health-care sector has found itself and the problems that the government has to tackle,” said Baťo.

Source: TASR

Compiled by Zuzana Vilikovská from press reports
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