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Coalition Council: Priorities for state budget set

THE LEADERS of Slovakia's three governing parties - Robert Fico of Smer, Ján Slota of the Slovak National Party, and Vladimír Mečiar of the Movement for a Democratic Slovakia - met on September 18 to discuss the state budget for 2007 and the use of funds from the EU between 2007 and 2013.

"After discussing the budget we came to the conclusion that the priorities have been set well, because we want to give a bit more money to the education, health care, and agricultural sectors in 2007," PM Robert Fico told journalists after the meeting of the Coalition Council, a senior government body consisting of the three leaders.

"There are clear commitments arising from the government's program in these fields. We also talked about our commitment to limit the public finance deficit to three percent of GDP."

Fico said that the coalition has clear priorities for the use of the Sk400 billion the country is to receive from the European Union during the 2007 to 2013 EU budget period: building a knowledge-based economy, developing infrastructure, protecting the environment, and eliminating regional differences.

"I expect that the cabinet will finalize a framework [for the use of the funds] by the end of September, and then submit it to the European Commission," Fico said.

The coalition partners also discussed limiting spending by individual ministries. "There is a proposal on the table to cut government spending by 15 to 20 percent. If we are to save, we will save on the state and not on the common people," stated the PM.

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