Smer rejects motion against Jahnátek for cronyism at ministry

The parliamentary committee for conflicts of interest on October 22 decided that it won't debate the employment of relatives and acquaintances of Agriculture Minister Ľubomír Jahnátek and compatriots from his native village of Komjatice at the ministry. The debate was proposed by the opposition, but MPs from the governing Smer party, which also dominates the committee, rejected the motion. Committee Chairman Miroslav Beblavý (Slovak Democratic and Christian Union-SDKÚ) insists that Jahnátek has violated a constitutional law that prohibits senior state officials from misusing their posts on behalf of their relatives and associates. “According to the facts that we’ve collected, Minister Jahnátek misused his post on behalf of his relatives, who wouldn't have got their jobs if they hadn't been his relatives," said Beblavý as quoted by the TASR newswire. Smer MPs defended Jahnátek, with MP Otto Brixi stating that the Agriculture Ministry has acted in line with internal norms. Agriculture Ministry spokesman Peter Hajnala said recently that the minister doesn’t have any powers vis-a-vis selection processes for specific posts at the ministry.

The parliamentary committee for conflicts of interest on October 22 decided that it won't debate the employment of relatives and acquaintances of Agriculture Minister Ľubomír Jahnátek and compatriots from his native village of Komjatice at the ministry.

The debate was proposed by the opposition, but MPs from the governing Smer party, which also dominates the committee, rejected the motion. Committee Chairman Miroslav Beblavý (Slovak Democratic and Christian Union-SDKÚ) insists that Jahnátek has violated a constitutional law that prohibits senior state officials from misusing their posts on behalf of their relatives and associates.

“According to the facts that we’ve collected, Minister Jahnátek misused his post on behalf of his relatives, who wouldn't have got their jobs if they hadn't been his relatives," said Beblavý as quoted by the TASR newswire.

Smer MPs defended Jahnátek, with MP Otto Brixi stating that the Agriculture Ministry has acted in line with internal norms. Agriculture Ministry spokesman Peter Hajnala said recently that the minister doesn’t have any powers vis-a-vis selection processes for specific posts at the ministry.

The Sme daily broke the story that several job openings at the ministry were announced only via the internal network, i.e. effectively excluding anyone from outside the ministry and preventing them from participating in the tender. Thus, the tenders only used to have a single bidder. The ministry, through its spokesman, said this procedure was normal.

Most-Híd MP Zsolt Simon pointed out that when Jahnátek became minister, none of his relatives or compatriots had been working at the ministry, adding that Jahnátek’s activities are at odds with ethics.

The same committee started an action against Jahnátek – minister did not state part of his property, the agricultural plot, in his property return which is required from public officials by law. Jahnátek completed the data in his property declaration only after the case had been brought to media attention, the SITA newswire wrote. He argued he had not known about the plots.

“I consider it strange that agriculture minister does not now he owns agricultural land,” Simon said, as quoted by SITA.

(Source: TASR, Sme, SITA)
Compiled by Zuzana Vilikovská from press reports
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