Fico cries ‘Cronyism!’; PM says ‘Go ahead!’
Opposition party Smer-SD has been pointing an accusative finger at the coalition over cronyism, due to a contract awarded by the Tax Directorate to the company Nitra Invest.
The contract in question is a 5-year lease agreement worth around EUR 6.6 million to rent a building in Kosice for the tax office. Head of Smer-SD, Robert Fico, is claiming that the governing SDKU party will get its percentage of the deal, as the man who signed the contract on behalf of the tax authority, general director Miroslav Mikulcik, is a close friend of finance minister Ivan Miklos.
Fico is therefore calling on Miklos to give up his ministerial post, claiming there are clear signs of cronyism. Fico backed his argument by the fact that the company Nitra Invest is part-owned by a company based in Cyprus (TPE Holding), with anonymous owners, while the other partner is the district head of the SDKU in Nitra, Ondrej Scurka.
Scurka said that everything surrounding the Cypriot company is above board, a normal business arrangement, and that it is not owned by a Slovak, and certainly not by former senior official of SDKU, Gabriel Palacka, as alleged by Fico.
Prime Minister Iveta Radicova summoned finance minister Ivan Miklos and Milan Mukulcik for a talk yesterday, after which she said they had agreed to re-open the tender and cancel the contract if a better offer is forthcoming. Radicova saw no problem in the owners of Nitra Invest and pointed out that if anyone wanted to “create scandals around it, then go ahead!”. She then made it clear that for her the case was closed.
The PM said she refused to let the government be accused of cronyism, and so she simply ordered the Tax Directorate to run the tender again. She said that until someone submits a better or equal offer, there could be no talk of cronyism.