Another minister nominated by the Slovak National Party (SNS) has lost his job. Environment Minister Ján Chrbet, who had held office for less than a year, is the second SNS minister in just the past month to be forced out over a dubious public contract.
Prime Minister Robert Fico announced on May 5 that Chrbet would go after he had failed to observe an ultimatum to disclose details of a controversial contract to sell emissions quotas. The contract allowed a newly-formed company to buy Slovakia’s excess emissions quotas at only two-thirds of the price for which Slovakia’s neighbours Ukraine and the Czech Republic sold their own quotas. The prime minister said on April 25 that if Chrbet failed to publish the contract he would be asked to leave.
But on May 5, Chrbet said that he would not disclose the terms of the contract following the categorical refusal of the firm which bought the quotas. At the same time Chrbet continued to defend the contract and said that the Slovak cabinet should decide.
“Cancelling the contract is a step against common sense to me and it is up to the judgement of my colleagues in the cabinet whether they confirm the transaction we carried out or they use the possibility of cancelling the contract that I negotiated without further losses, not a single cent for Slovakia,” Chrbet told a press conference on May 5.
Radovan Kazda of the Conservative Institute, a think tank which is frequently critical of the government, said that there are some serious questions emerging over lack of transparency.
“Everything indicates that the sale really took place under non-transparent conditions, i.e. without a public tender or publication of the sale conditions,” Kazda told The Slovak Spectator.
“This is indeed the least transparent way to sell a product which is owned by the state. In fact we can mark it as a corrupt proceeding on the part of the ministry.”
Article was published in the Slovakia`s English-language weekly The Slovak Spectator.