Tonin: Slovenia a victim of fraud; such abuses to be prosecuted as a matter of priority

Defence minister Matej Tonin explained the complication regarding three million protective masks ordered by Slovenia from abroad. Every trace of them is lost and according to him, police found it to be a classic scam. Such abuses shall be prosecuted as a matter of priority, he said.

“We were promised the supply of masks; the minister of economy was in contact with the driver. At 2.30 pm, this driver said that he was at the customs in Sežana, at 5.30 pm he was supposed to continue from there, at 6 pm he said that will be refuelling in Postojna and the masks will soon be in Ljubljana. Then we lost contact,” Tonin described in a press release the complication of purchasing the protective masks for everyone exposed, who need to protect themselves against the new coronavirus.

He also said that they immediately called the acting director-general of the police, Anton Travner, police then immediately started their procedures and found that this was a classic scam as no such a vehicle was present at Sežana border crossing or on the road to Postojna at the hours mentioned.

The masks were ordered from Global Promet, whose CEO is Emir Begović from Bosnia and Herzegovina. “This transportation and these masks never existed,” Tonin said, calling such behaviour extremely unacceptable.

Travner assured him that the police will now consider such abuses and war profits as a priority task. He said that “the good thing is that the state has not paid for the masks in advance and the state budget has not been harmed”.

On Wednesday evening, Tonin said that according to his information, Slovenia had already paid for 10 million masks, but the minister of economy Zdravko Počivalšek explained today that the Institute for Commodity Reserves had not paid for them in advance. “We do all the business by paying upon delivery,” he added.

Otherwise, according to Tonin, many are turning to the ministry of defence and the economy these days ensuring that they are able to provide a huge number of masks in the coming days. Since checking the seriousness of the offers and negotiating with each one individually requires a great deal of time and energy, the defence minister and the minister of economy agreed to change the procedure slightly.

“Anyone serious about these things should bring the protective equipment to Slovenia,” he explained. The state will then buy the equipment at a fixed price. “This is the fastest and most rational route,” he said.

Tonin is satisfied with the response of businessmen to his warnings of a critical lack of protective equipment on Wednesday. Today, he has already met with the director of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Slovenia Sonja Šmuc and the director of the Chamber of Craft and Small Business of Slovenia Srečko Meh. They both assured that they would urge entrepreneurs and businessmen to donate or lend protective equipment to Slovenian healthcare within the next 14 days.

They will also start to make changes in the logistics of supply due to the freight transport complications. They will try to provide as much protection equipment as possible via air transport, engaging both civilian and military capabilities. For this reason, some have already offered transport aircrafts for the transport of protective equipment. The minister of defence also hopes for improving the logistics through joint European procurement, resp. mutual assistance between European countries.

Tonin commented on the announcement of a possible activation of an Article 37a of a Defence Act, which would give the military additional powers. “If the minister of the interior proposes the activation of this article and if the National Assembly confirms the activation of this article by a two-thirds majority, the Slovenian Armed Forces will, of course, be ready,” he said.

Anyway, there are a half a million masks more in the civil protection warehouses today. Slovenian Railways donated 100,000 masks, and the Ministry of the Economy bought another 400,000 from Sanolabor. In addition, another 300,000 masks donated from China are on the way, Tonin said.

As agreed at the Crisis Unit meeting on Wednesday evening, they will first supply protective equipment to the most exposed institutions. Thus, the most urgent equipment is already on its way to the health centres in Šmarje pri Jelšah and Metlika, and to all contact points.

Economy Minister Počivalšek announced that they will try to deliver the 1.5 million FFB2 protective masks by the end of the week as planned, and at the beginning of the next the same number of FFP3 masks.

 

Source: STA, reporter.si

Photo: Pixabay

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