Members of the SaS party have come under fire because of a company they set up this week to buy a building in the Ruzinov borough of Bratislava, with the aim of renting it out, also to their own MPs.
The company, Liberalny dom, s.r.o., was established by party head and speaker of parliament, Richard Sulik, together with 15 other party members, including 6 MPs. The limited liability company has one object of business, which is the rental of commercial property and related services. The building will cost EUR 2.2 million, and the group of shareholders will borrow EUR 700,000 of it from a bank.
When queried about it, SaS party chairman, Richar Sulik, said he saw no conflict of interests here, as long as the offices are rented out at market prices. He also mentioned how other parties had done the same, but that they had ‘squeezed’ buildings from the state, while he and his partners were buying a regular building at the standard market price.
Zuzana Wienk from the watchdog Fair-Play Alliance is disturbed by the move, saying it is a clear conflict of interests, because if the offices are rented by MPs for state money, they are basically profiting personally from it. MPs receive an allowance of EUR 900 per month for their office, but they should try to save on this as best as possible, considering the fact that it is taxpaers’ money.
SMER-SD made a similar move, as its MPs rented offices at the party headquarters. The only difference being, the building was owned by the party itself, and not individuals. Even so, the Fair-Play Alliance spoke out about that situation as well.
Political analyst Rastislav Toth said: “This flies in the face of good morals. In western countries they would have been kicked out of the government the next day over such an affair…”.
Public officials are entitled to be part of a business as long as they do not have an executive function. The argument against this, however, is that politicians may make use information acquired in their position to the benefit of their companies.
Zuzana Wienk from the Fair-Play Alliance pointed out: “In this situation an MP will not try to find the best office at the best price, but will instead hand business to their own company, from which they will profit as the company owners”.