Parliamentary Chairman Accused Over Health Tender
The affair over the dubious purchase of a CT machine for a Piestany hospital at an exaggerated price has started unfolding to show certain relationships between the tender and similar state orders involving the private company Medical Group, which some opposition and media are tying to Parliamentary Chairman Pavol Paska.
In addition to selling the CT machine at three times the price, the company Medical Group SK has won also various other lucrative orders from state-run institutions. SME daily points to some 120 or so contracts the company has won in various tenders, primarily during the term of the current standalone Smer-SD government.
The company has already succeeded before in tenders for state hospitals in Martin and Trencin, in which Medical Group always managed to beat the other offers by mere cents, implying there may have been manipulation.
Opposition MPs led by Daniel Lipsic from the newly formed Nova party have pointed to links between the successful company Medical Group and speaker of parliament Pavol Paska, as he was involved in the initial setup of the company. Paska denies any current connection to the company, having disconnected in 2002. Paska also has links to various other companies doing business in the health service.
A no-confidence motion against Paska therefore could therefore be put to parliament provided there is enough opposition support, but given the majority of the Smer-SD party, of which Paska is one of the key figures, the motion is more a show rather than a hope of any real outcome. Prime Minister Robert Fico stands behind his right-hand man, going as far as to encourage Paska to sue Lipsic for his outlandish accusations. Pasks has already filed his complaints.
Back in 2008, SME daily cited head of the financial giant Penta, Jaroslav Hascak, as saying Paska had a large influence on the healthcare business. The now infamous Gorilla transcripts also cite Paska as a key man in the health service for the financial group, where it now owns a chain of pharmacies and several hospitals.
Earlier in the week, health minister Zuzana Zvolenska and deputy chair of parliament Renáta Zmajkovičová had to step down over the affair, more likely as the fall guys than the true culprits.
Medical Group SK, where Paska was executive from the setup of the company under a different name, is currently owned by Medical Group Europe s.r.o., based in the Czech Republic, which in turn is owned by RK 2, a.s., based in Banska Bystrica, Slovakia, owned till 2012 by Hillside Holdings Ltd in the tax haven of Belize.