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Government's economic goals largely met

WHILE the Dzurinda government's programme from 2002 to 2006 was far more modest than the programmes of the individual coalition parties, most of its economic goals were met.

This was the finding of the F A Hayek Foundation in Slovakia, a right-wing think tank, which on May 12 published an evaluation of the government's performance.

"Parties abandoned some promises the moment they were elected," said F A Hayek Director Martin Chren at a press conference. The government was successful in fulfilling its goals in economic policy, public finances and taxes, he said.

"The tax reform was performed well, and Slovakia now has one of the best tax systems in the world," Chren said.

"Another success was the introduction of the second capitalisation pillar of the pension reform," said the chairman of the foundation's board of directors, Ivan Švejna.

On the other hand, the government lags behind in education and the health care system.

The foundation focused on 10 economic, social and political areas. Within the economic sphere the foundation considered public finances, taxes and compulsory payments to insurance funds, and the business environment.

Analysts welcomed achievements such as the reduction of the state debt and the fiscal deficit, as well as the higher ratings Slovakia was awarded by rating agencies.

It noted, however, that the government was not successful in reforming the system of health and social insurance transfers, known in Slovakia as "payroll taxes".

The foundation welcomed the establishment of a business-friendly environment, but noted that ambiguities in the legislative environment, excessive bureaucracy and regulation had not yet been removed.

F A Hayek welcomed the introduction of the second pillar of the compulsory pension savings scheme. In the field of social aid the government partially eliminated abuse of the welfare system, but on the other hand created many new welfare payments. While the unemployment rate was reduced, it remains a major problem.

One of the most positive aspects of the health care reform was Health Minister Rudolf Zajac's courage in launching crucial changes to the system, according to the foundation. The introduction of fees for health care services was a revolution in Slovakia, where free health care is anchored in the Constitution.

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