Slovak finance minister survives confidence vote
Slovakian Finance Minister Jan Pociatek
survived a parliamentary confidence vote Wednesday over allegations that he had
improper contact with a financial services executive just before a key decision
in Slovakia's bid to join the eurozone.
Opposition deputies in the 150-seat chamber failed to reach the 76 votes needed to dismiss Pociatek. Only 48 voted for his removal, Slovak television reported.
Pociatek, a leading figure in Slovakia's push to adopt the euro on January 1, has denied suggestions that the meeting on a yacht in Monte Carlo gave J&T Group's boss advance knowledge of a May 28 revaluation of the koruna currency.
Opposition parties called Wednesday's special session, alleging that Pociatek leaked the information to the Slovak financial services firm.
Former finance minister Ivan Miklas, now an opposition member, claims that J&T made "hundreds of millions" of koruna in currency trading in the days before European Union governments approved Slovakia's revaluation, the Slovak news agency TASR reported.
Slovakian Prime Minister Robert Fico has publicly reprimanded Pociatek, reportedly calling his behaviour "unethical," but said he wants the minister to stay on the job.
Slovak central bank chief Ivan Sramko said Tuesday that he lacked information to determine whether the opposition allegations were true.
The koruna's rise forced Fico's government to ask the EU in late May to adjust the currency's so-called central parity against the euro.
The EU announcement, which lifted the benchmark exchange rate to 30.126 per euro, caused a renewed upward spike in the koruna's value in currency trading.
Fico is lobbying other EU governments to accept a strong conversion rate when Slovaks trade in the koruna for euros. EU finance ministers are expected to settle the conversion rate in July.
Apart from signalling the ex-communist nation's economic strength, Fico says that a conversion rate at the top end of the likely band would help keep prices rises in check for ordinary Slovaks, dpa reported.