The Slovenia Times

Motion to oust digital transformation minister fails

Digital Transformation Minister Emilija Stojmenova Duh defends her record in office in parliament. Photo: Katja Kodba/STA

The ruling coalition rallied behind Digital Transformation Minister Emilija Stojmenova Duh to vote down an opposition-sponsored motion of no-confidence in her over the purchase of 13,000 laptops meant to promote digital inclusion.

The Democratic Party (SDS) filed the motion after the issue was raised by the media, with an investigative news portal citing IT experts in saying the ministry had ordered laptops of average if not inferior quality that were unsuitable for serious work.

Based on an open call where the maximum price of each laptop was set at €500, tax included, the ministry bought the computers from four companies for a total of €6.5 million last year. The deal was signed before the eligibility criteria were set for the distribution of the laptops.

The party accused the minister of negligence and uneconomical spending of public money and of misleading the public over the deal. The party also raised the issue of the laptops being fitted with outdated hardware, with middling specifications and without an operating system.

"The minister's conduct shows that she is not fit for the job, because she has lost her personal integrity ... and according to public opinion polls, she has also lost the trust of the public," SDS deputy Tomaž Lisec said in the debate preceding the vote on 28 March.

He argued the debate should not have been held at all because in a "normal democratic country ... where cronyism and corruption of senior government officials does not occur ... the minister would have been a former minister long ago."

Stojmenova Duh rejected the accusations, insisting that she and her team had acted conscientiously. "All activities were carried out in line with the law, transparently, efficiently and economically," she said.

She added that the laptops had been purchased in an open call for which anyone who met the conditions could apply. "The entire documentation is public and accessible, and anyone can verify that there was no corruption."

She also denied the claim that the ministry did not know for who the laptops were being purchased for, as the changes to the relevant law adopted last year had clearly defined the beneficiaries. After the August 2023 floods, on the basis of the post-flood emergency law, 39 laptops were also also given to eight municipalities where public computer equipment was destroyed or damaged, she said.

Since the ouster motion was filed, the ministry has drafted legislation that facilitates the distribution of the laptops. Eligible are households with at least one primary school student whose family income does not exceed €221 per member.

The three coalition parties stood behind the minister. While noting that the search for a solution to distribute the laptops fairly had indeed taken too long, they said the matter was now being settled with the latest legislative changes.

The other opposition party, New Slovenia (NSi), endorsed the ousting motion, with MP Vida Čadonič Špelič saying that "not enough specific proposals and improvements have been made so far to digitalise Slovenian society."

This was the sixth motion of no confidence tabled by the SDS against the current government. None were successful, but two ministers stepped down before the National Assembly got the chance to discuss the motions.


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