Budget set to sail through parliament

THE CABINET of Robert Fico approved the draft state budget on October 11, removing the last serious hurdle for the state coffer plan on its way through parliament.
The ruling coalition trio - Smer, the Movement for a Democratic Slovakia (HZDS) and the Slovak National Party (SNS) - reached an agreement on the draft on October 9.

THE CABINET of Robert Fico approved the draft state budget on October 11, removing the last serious hurdle for the state coffer plan on its way through parliament.

The ruling coalition trio - Smer, the Movement for a Democratic Slovakia (HZDS) and the Slovak National Party (SNS) - reached an agreement on the draft on October 9.

The draft state budget for 2008-2010 has a projected deficit of 2.3 percent of GDP.

"Slovakia has not had such a low deficit in the last 10 years," Finance Minister Ján Počiatek told the media after the cabinet approved the draft.

He added that the deficit also included the expenses of the second, or capitalisation, pillar of the pension system.

The budget, a piece of legislation feared by every administration, was approved with days to spare before the October 15 deadline when it was required to be submitted to the parliament.

The draft that the Finance Ministry submitted to the special session of the cabinet projects a deficit of Sk31.981 billion (€953.8 million), Sk7.8 billion more than in the first draft. The proposed budget revenues are projected at Sk348.2 billion, Sk2.3 billion more than the ruling coalition parties had originally planned. The budget expenditures are planned at Sk380.2 billion, which is Sk10.1 billion more than in the previous proposal.

Fico said he was completely happy with the proposal.

"It fully respects the Maastricht criteria and also allows the country to continue its obvious social orientation," Fico told the press.

The prime minister also said the draft will sail through the parliament without major problems.

Fico has stressed that more money will flow into the coffers of the Culture Ministry - an extra Sk1.4 billion year-on-year - while judges will receive extra bonuses and the Justice Department will get more money to open new courts and prosecution offices, the SITA newswire wrote.

The Agriculture Ministry budget should stand at Sk29.078 billion, including resources from EU funds. The Education Ministry will see its budget for funding science and research inflated by Sk400 million.

Former prime minister Mikuláš Dzurinda, however, said he is concerned over the high deficit and the paltry funds for the education sector.

"I cannot recall such a sloppy approach to the state budget," Dzurinda told SITA.


By Beata Balogová

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