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Sacred Cows

Prime Minister Robert Fico said during the visit of OECD Secretary General Angel Gurría that he does not regard economic reforms as "a sacred cow". He repeated that the government would not scrap reforms that it regarded as good ones. But which are those? The public has yet to find out.

Prime Minister Robert Fico said during the visit of OECD Secretary General Angel Gurría that he does not regard economic reforms as "a sacred cow". He repeated that the government would not scrap reforms that it regarded as good ones. But which are those? The public has yet to find out.

The main reform line of the Dzurinda government, which made the country an example for others, was on taxes, pensions and labour law. These are apparently not among the "good" reforms, because since this government took office they have been under attack. The fight is being waged between the opposition and the government, within the government, and even within the ruling Smer party, as the Finance Ministry showed in fighting off attempts to change the tax reform. The pension reform, meanwhile, is under heavy attack by Fico and Labour Minister Tomanová, as if the Labour Code reform were something worthy of early capitalism. Its role in increasing employment is being totally ignored. Maybe in the end employers and unions will agree and get rid of the worst excesses, but this still doesn't change the fact that the Labour Code revision will return this country to "early socialism".

In the health care sector, the previous government stopped halfway. It got rid of the debts of hospitals and created a framework in which health care providers and health insurance companies had to operate under firm budget restrictions. What Minister Valentovič is offering will return Slovakia to a model that has already been proven not to work. His ministry is not worried by the fact that the change will once again lead to hospital debt, nor is it impressed by the argument that health insurance companies are currently in good shape and pay their bills on time. Reforms are not sacred cows, after all.


Sme, April 10

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