Bratislava, August 30 (TASR) – President Andrej Kiska will task Agriculture and Rural Development Minister Gabriela Matecna (a Slovak National Party/SNS nominee) with managing the Education, Science, Research and Sport Ministry on a temporary basis as of September 1, TASR learnt from the President’s Office on Wednesday.
Kiska will do so as soon as he receives current Education Minister Peter Plavcan’s resignation (a SNS nominee) on Thursday (August 31). The President’s Office confirmed with TASR that Plavcan will not take part in the act in person.
Plavcan is leaving his post after Prime Minister Robert Fico (Smer-SD) called on him to do so on August 16. While providing a reason, Fico said that the governing coalition cannot afford to gamble with the public’s confidence, which has been harmed by events at the Education Ministry. He asked SNS leader Andrej Danko to give him the name of a new minister as soon as possible. Danko has not yet done so.
Since early July, the ministry has been taking flak over the distribution of EU funds for research and innovation, as subsidies were provided to companies that had never done research before. Minister Plavcan put a stop to the dubious programme and decided to revise it. Later, the European Commission suspended payments for four project calls organised by the ministry and also banned the ministry from inking new contracts with subsidy applicants. The distribution of European Funds is being looked into by the European Anti-fraud Office, as well as the National Criminal Agency.
The Opposition has been demanding Plavcan’s ouster ever since the scandal erupted. The circumstances also contributed to the Government crisis and SNS’s decision to unilaterally withdraw from the coalition agreement.