THE RULING Smer party will ban the export of water through a constitutional amendment, Prime Minister Robert Fico and Environment Minister Peter Žiga told the press on July 8. The only exception to the ban would be water sent to other countries for humanitarian aid.

The proposal came shortly after the opposition criticised the cabinet for what it said was allowing water to be exported for commercial purposes. Some opposition parties, however, are still calling on the government to withdraw the law, which is currently being discussed in parliament.

The amending proposal would affect Article 4 of the constitution, which defines mineral resources as state property that cannot be traded, the TASR newswire reported. The ban would include the transfer of water via pipelines and tanks, but not the export of packaged water. Fico and Žiga, however, did not present a specific proposal, saying they will submit it to parliament after the discussed water law makes it to the second reading, the SITA newswire wrote.

The currently discussed draft law defines water as a strategic raw material. It introduces a permission system and sets conditions for those who export water abroad. The opposition has objected to the proposal, saying that in passing the law the government will in fact allow water to be exported. The Environment Ministry, on the other hand, claims that exporting water is currently already possible, and that they will only restrict it by introducing the permission system, the Sme.sk website reported.

According to Fico, this is the first time that the Slovak government has seriously dealt with the protection of water sources. He hopes that passing the constitutional amendment will put an end to any controversy surrounding the export of water. Fico also called on the opposition to support the amendment, as reported by SITA.

Meanwhile, the opposition Slovak Democratic and Christian Union (SDKÚ) called on Fico to resist the pressure of lobbyists and withdraw the draft from parliament. Otherwise, it will be proved that Smer wants to export water and is being insincere toward the public, said SDKÚ chair Pavol Frešo, as reported by SITA.

He added that the government, when trying to pass the proposal, was under pressure from the public and the opposition, which is proved by its recent proposal to amend the constitution to ban water exports, SITA wrote.

Source: TASR, SITA, Sme.sk

Compiled by Radka Minarechová from press reports

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