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IN SHORT

Opposition: Cabinet not serious about IT

PRIME Minister Robert Fico's government is not serious about creating a knowledge-based economy, says the opposition Slovak Democratic and Christian Union (SDKÚ) party.

SDKÚ officials said that the ratio of public spending on science and research grew from 0.26 percent to 0.47 percent of GDP over the 2002-2006 period under the former SDKÚ-led coalition government.

According to the state budget proposal for next year, however, this figure is due to fall in 2007 to 0.4 percent of GDP.

"Over the past four years, spending on Slovak universities has increased from 0.68 percent of GDP to 0.81 percent of GDP. In 2007 this should fall to 0.75 percent," said SDKÚ Deputy Chairman Ivan Mikloš.

The spending cuts will affect scientific research, universities, and elementary and secondary schools, said SDKÚ MP Ferdinand Devínsky, who is chairman of the parliamentary Education Committee.

According to Devínsky, the planned Sk712 million (€19.9 million) year-on-year increase in spending on education will not even cover salary increases for teachers.

Former Education Minister Martin Fronc added that under the budget proposal, less money will go towards scholarships, information technology, foreign languages, school development, and science.

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