THE GOVERNMENT has managed to fulfil three key tasks from its programme statement, including the consolidation of public finances, supporting economic growth and price stability, and reducing high unemployment, Prime Minister Robert Fico told the press on May 21 when assessing the steps his government undertook during the first two years in office.

“I dare say that we have managed to achieve the consolidation of public finances and thus fulfilled the key part of the government programme,” Fico said, as quoted by the TASR newswire. “From the social point of view, we have managed to carry out this task in a more ‘people friendly’ way than the previous centre-right government.”

At the same time Fico stressed that Slovakia is one of the fastest-growing economies in the European Union and the eurozone.

“The EU and the OECD expect that Slovakia will have balanced economic growth in 2014 and 2015,” the prime minister said, as quoted by TASR, specifying that this year the prediction stands at 2.2 percent and in 2015 at 3.1 percent.

In this regard Fico reiterated that the government does not support further economic sanctions against Russia linked to the crisis in Ukraine. According to him, Slovakia’s economic growth would drop to only 1 percent if the next level of sanctions is employed.

Moreover, Slovakia managed to decrease its budget deficit below 3 percent of GDP, Fico stressed, as quoted by the SITA newswire.

Price stability in Slovakia is, according to Fico, guaranteed thanks to a strong regulatory framework that limits energy price hikes.

“I respect that peoples’ subjective feelings can be different,” Fico said. “The fact remains, however, that we are in a period of deflation, with prices falling by 0.2 percent on average.”
According to the PM, Slovakia is also on the right track in terms of reducing the high unemployment rate.

“The registered jobless rate in April 2014 was the lowest since January 2011, when it stood at 12.96 percent,” he said, as quoted by TASR, adding that currently there are 349,745 job seekers ready to take job immediately, which is 39,203 fewer people, or 10.08 percent less, than last year.

Fico also denied claims about the possible replacement of some of the ministers in his government, calling it “sheer fabrication”. Several media outlets have previously mentioned the names of Education Minister Dušan Čaplovič, Health Minister Zuzana Zvolenská and Economy Minister Tomáš Malatinský, alleging they might vacate their posts.

“I stand behind all of my ministers, and if I were to have reservations regarding any of them, I would address that,” he said, as quoted by TASR.

The PM admitted that any minister could still conceivably fail in the second half of the cabinet’s term, but stressed that now all of them have his trust.