On May 2 Prime Minister Robert Fico (Smer) presented the government’s programme document to parliament, asking legislators to voice their confidence in the document which Fico said would turn Slovakia into a modern and economical state that engages in a reasonable level of social intervention, the TASR newswire reported, adding that his speech lasted for about an hour and he vowed on the cabinet's behalf to comply with a social-democratic programme that will not adversely affect the economy.

"The manifesto makes it clear that the consolidation of public finances is impossible without economic growth and job creation. Cuts and savings automatically lead only to a rise in inflation and unemployment. What's the use of saving if it leads to a downward spiral? This is a path that doesn't work. We want to go the European way," the prime minister stressed, as quoted by TASR.

Fico said the general public is aware of the need to adopt immediate measures to consolidate public finances but said it wants to see this done in a different sort of atmosphere, emphasising that the programme statement is a comprehensive policy document that was inspired by a strategy for developing Slovak society up through 2030. The prime minister reacted to the criticised lack of specific figures in the document by saying the statement must define trends and policies.

The prime minister asserted that his cabinet will strive for good relations with all neighbouring countries. Fico cited ten key tasks for the government during its mandate such as mitigating the impact of economic crisis by boosting social certainties, consolidation of public finances, reducing the budget deficit to 3 percent of GDP, cutting high youth unemployment, improving law enforceability and others.

After the programme statement was presented, Pavol Paška, the chairman of parliament, interrupted the session to enable parliamentary committees to discuss the document. The session of parliament will resume on Thursday afternoon and a vote of confidence will be held after discussion is completed.

The opposition Slovak Democratic and Christian Union (SDKÚ) party announced it will not back the government’s programme document and that other opposition parties are set to follow suit. SDKÚ vice-chair Lucia Žitňanská said the document is so vague that individual ministers would be able to act almost arbitrarily, adding that it lacks specific tools for tackling unemployment, mainly of young people, as well as more specific plans for consolidating public finances and for improving the functioning of the judiciary and police.

The SDKÚ’s parliamentary caucus chair, Ľudovít Kaník, stated that the government will take money out of people's pockets. "Not the wealthy, but all people will pay for the economic management of this government," Kaník stated, as quoted by TASR, adding that the government will certainly reduce future pensions and halt economic growth.

Richard Sulík, the chairman of Freedom and Solidarity (SaS) party, said at a press conference that the government is clueless and has no idea how to deliver on its election promises to provide people with social certainties. Sulík announced that SaS will not provide any support to the government’s programme statement while adding that the perception that the government will take money only from the rich is false.

Source: TASR

Compiled by Zuzana Vilikovská from press reports
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