SARIO chief's fall a blow
I find this news about SARIO [the resignation of SARIO investment agency chief Alan Sitár] disheartening ["SARIO summer of discontent waxes full" by Ed Holt Vol. 7 No. 30, August 13-19]. As someone of Slovak descent encouraging investors to attend the Inwest Forum November 19 conference in Bratislava, this development serves only to create hesitancy for the investor. Just as some traction is taking hold and momentum is developing, we are derailed by this news.
What does political popularity mean?
Your editorial is very interesting ["Frustrated expectations and what abides about Slovakia" - Editorial Vol. 7 No. 29, July 30-August 12]. So the Dzurinda government is down to 30% popularity? We need to ask if this really means anything. All politicians' numbers travel all over the spectrum during their term of office.
Looking at Slovakia from the West, I must point out that the greatest problem facing any Slovak government is the mind set of the older generation, now receiving pensions. That mind set was schooled under Communism and literally cannot translate reality into market forces. They always bought bread for pennies per loaf, and there was always plenty of bread. Now all goods are affected by the market, bread costs more, and these people equate this with government failure.
I can't understand why this older generation can't see that the real failure in Slovakia is the export of Slovak intelligentsia. A college-educated Slovak can earn up to five times the average Slovak wage by working in Vienna. How can this be? One factor is that so much of the state's budget is tied up in pensions for the elderly.
All the pensioners I know receive a twice-yearly increase of up to 10% in their pensions. In many Western countries the cost of living allowance raises a pension 3 to 3.5% once a year. However, getting rid of this old mindset will not happen overnight. It has to be the greatest frustration for a forward-looking politician who wants to see market principles work in a former communist economy.
Best-laid plans must be put into action
It is high time that the government's best-laid anti-corruption plans be put into action ["Steeled for anti-graft assault" by Ed Holt Vol. 7 No. 30, August 13-19].
US Steel is to be commended for its stand, and it is high time that government officials be called to account for their actions if corruption is proven. Being fired from their jobs is not enough - criminal charges should be filed against them and the company officials offering the bribes. It must then be ensured that non-corruptible judges sentence these crooks to the longest possible sentence to serve as an example for others who might be tempted. If I were an EU taxpayer, I would be incensed to see my money going into the pockets of a corrupt politician, be he Czech, Ukranian or Slovak.
Expectations were unrealistic
Expecting more from this government was, and is, unrealistic ["Frustrated expectations and what abides about Slovakia" - Editorial Vol. 7 No. 29, July 30-August 12].
Not only did it have to undo many wrongs which it inherited from the previous government, but as a coalition of parties with different political programmes and ideologies, internal discord was inevitable. It has had its share of scandals, but every government has, all over the world. There is no question that it has made great strides forward, more visible in the foreign than domestic arena.
That the government couldn't so far bring previous wrongdoers to justice? In a law-abiding, democratic society it's a notoriously difficult job - you must have solid evidence which can stand up to the scrutiny of the courts.
The Slovak Spectator's articles seem to reflect well the general situation in the country; what I occasionally don't appreciate is the innuendo "this is possible only in Slovakia". To heck it is - it's possible everywhere!
20. Aug 2001 at 0:00