Bratislava, July 11 (TASR) – Opposition Freedom and Solidarity Party (SaS) is calling on Education, Science, Research and Sport Minister Peter Plavcan (a Slovak National Party/SNS nominee) to immediately examine the reasons why neither Slovak universities, nor the Slovak Academy of Sciences (SAV) have received any money from the almost €300 million designated for long-term and strategic research and development, SaS representatives told a news conference on Tuesday.
“We have an understanding of the university rectors and SAV management’s indignation, and under the given circumstances we are inclined to the opinion that this is a big scandal. We are far from claiming that research should be exclusively concentrated at universities and SAV; however, it’s incomprehensible as to why they have not obtained a single cent from the €300 million designated for science and research,” said MP Branislav Grohling. In his words, the situation that has emerged is clear evidence of bias and a very suspicious handling of European funds. This creates a disastrous picture of the situation in the education sector, as well as of the manner that SNS is managing the ministry, added Grohling.
“Support for science and research is falling. Instead of supporting Slovak universities in creating high-quality research, the Education Ministry is giving research money to firms. It has been ignoring high-quality proposals by Slovak universities, including, for example, the Comenius University’s project concerning medical research in the field of tumour diseases,” added Grohling.
The liberals draw attention to the fact that Robert Fico’s (Smer-SD) second government enabled firms to deduct expenditures on science and research from their tax base without there being any control over their legitimacy. In this context, the party pointed out bizarre cases in which firms have deducted, under the legend of science and research, expenditures on activities that had nothing in common with real research. Therefore, SaS is concerned this might also be the case for projects from firms that have been chosen by the selection committee and among which the €300 million will be distributed.
The media reported on Monday (July 10) that the rectors of major universities, along with the SAV chairman, in this context wrote a letter to the education minister, urging him to annul the results of the call concerning the provision of European funds. The ministry in reaction said that the process for the projects’ approval has not yet been completed.