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Stalemate over new head for FNM

THE CABINET of Iveta Radičová may have sacked Anna Bubeníková, a nominee of Radičová’s own Slovak Democratic and Christian Union (SDKÚ), from her job as chair of the National Property Fund (FNM), the state privatisation agency, on January 11, but it now seems unlikely that the FNM will get a new chair before the parliamentary elections scheduled for March 10.

THE CABINET of Iveta Radičová may have sacked Anna Bubeníková, a nominee of Radičová’s own Slovak Democratic and Christian Union (SDKÚ), from her job as chair of the National Property Fund (FNM), the state privatisation agency, on January 11, but it now seems unlikely that the FNM will get a new chair before the parliamentary elections scheduled for March 10.

Slovak President Ivan Gašparovič, who must formally dismiss Bubeníková, said that two months ahead of the parliamentary elections the executive board of the FNM does not need a new chair, particularly “at a time when privatisation is halted”, and that the board can operate normally without a chairperson.

Bubeníková was sacked on the heels of the Gorilla affair, named after a leaked file purporting to describe an operation conducted by the country’s main intelligence agency between 2005 and 2006 over suspicions of high-level political corruption. The file, the authenticity of which has not yet been proved, states that Bubeníková served as a go-between for Penta, a major private financial group which was seeking to buy state assets, and the FNM, where she also worked in 2005.

Economy Minister Juraj Miškov, a nominee of governing Freedom and Solidarity (SaS) party, who proposed Bubeníková’s dismissal and expected the cabinet on January 18 to discuss her replacement, said it is possible that the delay in filling the top job at the FNM is part of what he called ‘games’, according to the SITA newswire.

The president, whose authorities have been temporarily widened since the fall of the government in October 2011, had been expected to give his written consent to Bubeníková’s recall upon submission of nominations for a new appointment to the top job at the FNM.

Three names were considered. Miškov originally proposed Jozef Petraško, a nominee of the SDKÚ, who despite agreeing initially then changed his mind after consulting his party and withdrew his nomination.

The minister then proposed Pavol Faktor of the Christian Democratic Movement (KDH), but Miškov later told SITA that he had been told that the political board of the KDH disagreed with the nomination. The minister finally proposed Dionýz Stehlík of SaS.

When asked about the possibility of parties playing politics over the nomination, Zsolt Simon, a minister from Most-Híd, the fourth governing party, said that he did not see the SDKÚ’s disagreement as being out of revenge for developments around the Gorilla file.

Gašparovič, according to his spokesman Marek Trubač, did not object to specific nominees but believes that the National Property Fund can continue to operate without a chairperson. President Gašparovič added, through his spokesman, that FNM documents are signed in the name of the FNM executive committee by its chairman, but that in his or her absence other members of the executive committee can be charged with that responsibility, and that for its order and actions to be legally valid two members of the executive committee must sign documents.

The president said for these reasons he was confident that the fund could continue to operate normally.

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