Slovak opposition calls for health minister's head over alledged corruption

By bne IntelliNews October 8, 2015

The Slovak opposition called on October 8 for the health minister to be sacked. Citing allegations of corruption, the opposition is hoping to inflict similar damage on the government as seen during scandals in the health sector a ago, which threw the ruling Smer party seriously off balance. 

The Christian Democrat Party (KDH) called on Prime Minister Robert Fico to dismiss Health Minister Viliam Cislak over failure to reduce corruption and increase transparency in the healthcare system. This follows a scandal surrounding the former head of state-owned health insurer Vseobecna Zdravotna Poistovna (VsZP).

Corruption in the healthcare system has proved a hot political issue recently. Last year, the health minister was forced to resign following a scandal related to a shady tender at a provincial hospital. Parliament speaker Pavol Paska, seen as Smer's second in command, was also forced from office as a series of protests rocked Bratislava.

“Minister Cislak, after taking up office, declared that he would enforce a reduction in corruption and would stop the tunnelling of healthcare. But his most recent steps show that he has no real interest in correcting matters," KDH MP and former health minister Ivan Uhliarik said, according to TASR news agency.

VsZP head Marcel Forai has been accused by the opposition of abuse of office and violation of the law on public interest. "Anti-corruption party" Siet claimed he concluded contracts worth €14mn with companies in which his 77-year old aunt is involved.

Forai has rejected the accusations, claiming the contracts were signed long before he took the helm at the insurer. However, he has now stepped down from his post.

According to Cislak, Forai will be able to return to the post if it is shown he had not acted inappropriately. “In light of these events, we believe that the minister doesn't want to increase transparency in the health sector and to stop tunnelling," Uhliarik said.

"KDH will agree with Smer on some social measures, but it won't agree on the attitude to corruption. The health ministry is the 'El Dorado' of this phenomenon. Health care is infected with corruption and clientelism, and the infection is spreading,” KDH chairman Jan Figel said.

NOVA, Ordinary People Party (OLaNO) and the Liberal Freedom and Solidarity Party (SaS) claimed earlier this year Cislak was nominated as minister to cover up the shady tender scandal at the provincial hospital.

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