The Slovenia Times

Iztok Purič put forward for cohesion minister


Purič, 64, has been put forward by the Alenka Bratušek Party (SAB) and Prime Minister Marjan Šarec has endorsed the bid, the PM's office confirmed on Wednesday.

If appointed by parliament, Purič will succeed Marko Bandelli, who was forced to step down earlier this month after it transpired that he attempted to use his clout to interfere in local elections in his home town of Komen.

Running for the mayor of Kranj in the 18 November local elections, Purič finished fourth with under 16% of the vote despite being supported by the outgoing Mayor Boštjan Trilar as well as the SAB.

Purič, who has a PhD from the Kranj Faculty of Organisational Sciences, headed the public entity running the Brdo estate for 12 years before he was dismissed by the government in June 2012 due to flawed management of the institution.

He was in charge of the estate that serves as the venue for official state functions during Slovenia's presidency of the EU when the estate hosted a series of ministerial sessions as well as an EU-US summit featuring US President George W. Bush.

Purič was also in charge when Brdo hosted a summit between Bush and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin there in November 2001.

Before becoming director Purič served as technical manager at Brdo and before that headed the personnel department at the production and retail company Exoterm and at the food company Žito.

A few years ago media reports alleged that under his guide as director at Brdo when Alenka Bratušek served as a member of the management board employees from the Brdo estate worked at Bratušek's property.

He also faced a criminal complaint over allegedly excessive expenditure for an oriental rug, but the complaint was dismissed by the court and Purič denied any allegation of wrongdoing.

The first task at hand for the new minister will be a report on delays in the drawing of EU funds with proposals on how to make it more efficient. Šarec has indicated the report is long overdue and was one of the reasons for Bandelli's dismissal.

The SAB said it picked Purič so that he could use his often-proven expertise, skills and capacities in the fields of human resources, management and budget funds management for Slovenia's benefit again in the Government Office for Development and European Cohesion Policy, which employs more than 200 people.

The party quoted Purič as saying that he was aware of the responsibility he would assume if appointed minister. "European funds are our development funds, they are our potential, and if I get the chance I will do everything in my power to benefit from them to the best possible extent."

PM Šarec would not comment on the pick, but he did say that he agreed with the proposal and had already submitted the nomination to parliament having met Purič, who assured him "that he will do what I expect him to do".

He said that the cohesion department faced quite a few problems. By consenting to the nomination, Purič assumed a great responsibility, Šarec said, adding: "I expect the work to start and that EU funds are phased as they should be."

Asked whether he was bothered by the candidate's "baggage", Šarec said: "The SAB party put him forward, the department is part of the SAB quota and if they consider him a suitable candidate I will give him a chance."

The other coalition parties responded in a similar way, noting that the choice was up to the SAB, which was responsible for the department, and the prime minister.


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