AGRICULTURE Minister Ľubomír Jahnátek will not face any punishment for having employed several of his relatives and compatriots from his native village of Komjatice in high positions at the ministry he is in charge of.
The parliamentary committee for conflicts of interest decided at its October 22 session that it would not debate the case.
The debate was proposed by the opposition, but MPs from the governing Smer party, which dominates the committee, rejected the motion. Committee chairman Miroslav Beblavý of the opposition 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 gotten 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 spokesperson Peter Hajnala said recently that the minister does not 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, thus effectively preventing anyone outside the ministry from applying for the positions. Thus, the positions had only a single applicant. The ministry’s spokesperson 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 ethical standards.
The same committee initiated another action against Jahnátek for not listing an agricultural plot in his property return, which is required from public officials by law. Jahnátek completed the data on his property declaration only after the case had been brought to the media’s attention, the SITA newswire wrote. He argued that he had not known about the property.