Yesterday the National Assembly has, at the request of the parties, so-called “constitutional arc”, so LMŠ, Levica, SD, and SAB, ordered a parliamentary inquiry to establish the facts and possible political responsibility for measures related to the epidemic and mitigation of its consequences. The investigation covers the time of Janez Janša’s government, while at the request of the coalition, an investigation is already underway, which also includes action before that, reports STA.
Four opposition parties, which demanded the order of a parliamentary investigation into the actions of the Janša government during the epidemic of the new coronavirus, raise suspicion of wasteful use of public funds and violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms.
On behalf of the proponents, LMŠ MP Robert Pavšič said that the establishment of this commission of inquiry was the result of two of the obscene political acts in the history of democratic Slovenia. “The harmful, corrupt, nepotistic, and corrupt conduct of this government on the pretext of fighting the epidemic,” he stated in the first place. He added the establishment of a commission of inquiry at the request of the coalition, which he said will investigate itself.
Critical of the government and the coalition, Pavšič assessed that they had completely failed in the field of controlling the epidemic.
“By misleading and knowingly citing untrue information, the government has justified a number of measures and thus harmed not only public finances, but also caused significant economic damage by creating uncertainty and disproportionate interference with constitutional rights,” Pavšič assessed. Among other things, he pointed out the appointment of various expert groups, which, in his opinion, can be accused of a conflict of interest.
Bojana Muršič (SD) also assessed that the epidemic is not under control, and every day we are “faced with new restrictions, which the Prime Minister usually communicates via Twitter”. “The beginning of the fight against the virus was definitely marked by the stain of controversial purchases of protective and medical equipment, in front of which ministers competed over who would be photographed before an individual disputed shipment,” said Muršič.
Levica MP Željko Cigler judged that “the loss of tens of millions with the purchase of protective equipment through intermediaries was not an unfortunate bad decision or the result of difficult conditions”, but “a conscious decision of the government of current President Janez Janša to get commissions for his friends”. As Cigler explained, the government has rejected procurement through an interstate agreement with China as one of the options for the direct supply of medical and protective equipment.
According to Mark Bandelli (SAB), it is necessary to find out how the procedures related to mitigation measures were conducted and carried out. According to the SAB, it should be investigated if any of the members of any government abused the epidemic for so-called war profiteering, and in this case call him to account. “We will not get back the wasted money. We can only determine whether the funds have been spent transparently and economically,” Bandelli said.
SDS MP Alenka Jeraj reminded that the opposition parties proposed the establishment of a commission of inquiry after a commission with a similar content had already been set up at the suggestion of the coalition. In her opinion, they can talk about the possible omission of public officials in the formulation of measures for the period before March 13th. At that time, the government was led by the president of the LMŠ, Marjan Šarec, and the government declared an epidemic on March 12th. “You will certainly find a waiver of public office holders because the warehouses were empty. So, someone did not do their job,” said Jeraj, who otherwise heads the already established commission of inquiry.
The SMC does not oppose the parliamentary inquiry. Among other things, according to MP Gregor Perič, they agree that the adequacy of legislation to take action in dealing with the epidemic should be determined. But not in a way that the National Assembly will decide whether the measures are unconstitutional, disproportionate, as this should be decided by the judiciary. At the same time, they wonder whether at the moment, when the measures are still in progress and the court has not yet decided on the initiatives for the assessment of constitutionality, it is even possible to expect optimal results of the parliamentary investigation.
According to NSi MP Iva Dimic, it is right that the entire case with allegations and suspicions about uneconomical purchases of protective equipment be transferred to the commission of inquiry and to the competent state bodies, which should investigate the legality and economy of the transactions. NSi is committed to investigating all those who were in any way involved in procurement and measures before and during the epidemic, both left and right, Dimič stressed, adding that their goal is to get to the truth.
The DeSUS parliamentary group did not comment.
Today’s debate revolved around different views on the responsibility of either Janša’s or Šareč’s government in dealing with the epidemic. The opposition also pointed the finger at the government’s insufficient preparation for the second wave of the epidemic, which SDS deputies flatly rejected. There were also allegations from both sides about compliance with the measures in the epidemic.
The purpose of the commission of inquiry, which began to work on October 15th, is to determine, among other things, the possible political responsibility of public office holders for the economy and timeliness of procurement of personal protective and critical medical equipment, for measures taken before and during the epidemic.