House Committee: Funds Weren’t Wasted during EU Presidency

MP Miroslav Beblavy (stock pohoto by TASR)

Bratislava, January 26 (TASR) – Contrary to an initiative by MP Miroslav Beblavy (Independent), Parliament’s foreign affairs committee declined to conclude on Thursday that funds were frittered away in the organisation of events connected to Slovakia’s Presidency of the Council of the EU in the second half of 2016, TASR learnt on the same day.

Instead, the committee voted to take on board the report from an MPs’ probe going back to December 1.

Among other things, Beblavy’s proposed resolution sought to put Foreign and European Affairs Minister Miroslav Lajcak (a Smer-SD nominee) under the obligation to bring to book those deemed liable for wasting funds and to update the committee within 15 days on measures adopted.

Back in the middle of December the ministry submitted to the committee documentation and clarifications on the enquiries that the lawmakers presented during their probe earlier in the month. The probe sought to examine whether cultural events surrounding the Slovak presidency were overpriced, as alleged by former ministry employees Zuzana Hlavkova and Pavol Szalai.

The ministry has been rejecting the claims all along. “The submitted material of 200 pages contains the requested documents, answers and legal opinions on questions and requests raised by committee members during the MPs’ probe with regard to certain cultural events carried out by Slovakia’s Presidency of the Council of the EU,” said Stano in December, adding that the ministry is hopeful that once the dossier is reviewed, accusations that money was mishandled will be proven false.

The paperwork included written materials concerning the estimated cost of a concert organised to unveil the logo of the Slovak presidency, a report explaining why Evka agency was chosen to organise the event as well as a description of the selection process for the supplier, the offers of two more bidders and all invoices received by the ministry in connection with the event.

This left Beblavy unimpressed, however. He argued that the ministry has provided MPs with almost “none of the key documents” that they had demanded during the probe. In addition, said Beblavy, MPs weren’t allowed to speak to any ministry employees out of fear that they might leak what Beblavy called “inappropriate information”. He contended that the ministry was holding back information and was manipulating the public.