Police have already started dealing with the dubiously allocated millions of euros from EU funds for research and development. These were allocated by Education Minister Peter Plavčan (SNS nominee).
Plavčan fled the press conference on July 26, at which he planned to explain the questionable allocation of EU funds, without really answering the media’s questions.
The minister has been criticised by the opposition and the media for allocating millions of euros from EU funds to companies. These companies made relevant adjustments to their focus of operations in the Business Register only shortly before applying for the subsidies, the Sme daily wrote.
The scandal was brought to light already on June 30 when the Government’s Commission on Science, Technology and Innovations discussed it, according to the report published on its website, the Denník N daily wrote. The redistribution of funds was criticised by Rector of the Slovak University of Technology in Bratislava Robert Redhammer, executive director of Club 500 Tibor Gregor and Jozef Buday of the Association of Industrial Science Research and Development Organisations. They already knew their projects had been unsuccessful.
The Special Prosecutor’s Office ordered a check on the allocation of the money, while Plavčan refused to comment on the check by the police. Apart from the Slovak police’s National Criminal Agency (NAKA), the European Commission, the Supreme Audit Office and the ministry officials are checking into the subsidies. The order came from a prosecutor of the Special Prosecutor’s office.
However, Plavčan had been plagued by scandals and inexplicable behavior even before he was appointed minister. He is also criticised by experts for not really launching the much-awaited education reform into practice.
Prime Minister Robert Fico refuses to comment on whether it was okay to redistribute millions of euros allocated for science and research among companies that had never dealt with this field before, instead of to large universities. Culture Minister Marek Maďarič, however, considers the suspicions serious. If any wrongdoing is confirmed, the responsible person should be removed from office, he said, without specifying who that should be. The opposition is meanwhile calling for Plavčan’s dismissal (who is a coalition partner, SNS party, nominee).
So far, the ministry is reluctant to speculate on Peter Plavčan’s potential successor. Eva Smolíková of SNS has been mentioned most frequently, according to Sme.
The incumbent minister allegedly welcomes the fact that the authorities are taking action – according to his spokesperson – and the ministry has launched an audit on its own. However, he is not intending to resign.