Parliament approved the state budget for 2014, with the deficit projected to reach 2.64 percent of GDP. Eighty-one out of 145 MPs in the chamber voted for the bill, while 62 were against it December 12.

All MPs present from the governing Smer-SD party backed the budget while all but two opposition legislators voted against it, the TASR newswire wrote. Štefan Kuffa of ‘Ordinary People’ (OĽaNO) abstained from voting, Independent MP Radoslav Procházka didn’t vote at all.

The draft, which was amended in parliament, envisages the deficit to reach €3.284 billion. Revenues should stand at €14.108 billion while expenditure is projected to reach €17.392 billion. The initial proposal envisaged a slightly bigger deficit – €3.386 billion. The largest portion of funding in the 2014 budget is to be allocated to the Transport, Construction and Regional Development Ministry -- €2.257 billion. Next, comes the Labour, Social Affairs and the Family Ministry, and the Interior Ministry on €2.211 billion and €2.018 billion, respectively.

The parliamentary debate on the bill featured mostly opposition MPs. They claimed that the budget only creates an illusion of consolidation and only introduces one-off savings measures. The opposition opines that the budget fails to secure the long-term sustainability of public finances. The MPs also bemoaned the state debt’s approaching 57 percent of GDP. If that threshold were breached, Finance Minister Peter Kažimír would need to submit a balanced budget, which the opposition deems impossible in the current situation.

The ministry rejected the criticism and claimed that the consolidation measures are sufficient. Kažimír especially praised the fact that tax collection has been improving, which constitutes the reversal of a long-term trend.

The public deficit is likely drop below 3 percent of GDP in 2014, in line with goals set by the government for next year, a number of analysts concurred for TASR.

According to some analysts, a major problem of the budget is that it hinges on one-time measures and, therefore, the government will likely have to embrace new reforms in 2015.

(Source: TASR)
Compiled by Zuzana Vilikovská from press reports
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