New EU funds plan gives more to information society

AT A SPECIAL session on October 8, the Slovak cabinet approved an updated version of a plan for how to spend money it will receive from the European Union from 2007-2013, notably allocating more money than previously envisaged for encouraging the growth of an information-based society.

Ministers added three new development programs to the draft version of the National Strategic Reference Network, as the spending plan is known. The construction minister is to submit the final version of the plan to the European Commission by the end of November.

According to the plan, nearly €11 billion in EU structural funds will be distributed to Slovak development programs in the next seven years.

"Now we can concentrate on negotiations with the European Union," said Prime Minister Robert Fico after the draft was approved.

The cabinet earmarked €772 million for a new program called Competitiveness and Economic Growth, which will be overseen by the Economy Ministry.

Another €993 million was allocated to a new program called The Informatization of Society, which will be administered by the Cabinet Office, under Deputy PM Dušan Čaplovič.

The cabinet also allocated €250 million for the Health Service program that will be run by the Health Ministry.

The new proposal is now very similar to a draft prepared by the former Dzurinda government, and in particular has returned more spending to the IT sector and the creation of a knowledge-based economy than the Fico government at first proposed.

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