Vice Premier Ivan Mikloš.
Following this appointment, Mikloš served as the Director of the Institute for Economic and Social Policy at the Government Office, and as Minister of Privatization from 1991 to 1993. Since 1993, he has been the director of an independent market research and consulting institute, MESA 10, which became famous for its sharp criticism of Premier Vladimír Mečiar's style of crony privatisation of national property. Since 1994, he has taught economics at Trnava University.
The Slovak Spectator asked Mikloš what his first steps would be as the main economic force in the new government.
The Slovak Spectator (TSS): What are the economic priorities of the new government?
Ivan Mikloš (IM): The basic move is to create a new system of institutions that would allow gradual growth of the Slovak economy over the long term. This growth will then positively influence the social sphere and raise the living standards of Slovak citizens. The former system was unbearable, because we were living on debt. This was mostly due to the existence of a dangerous institutional system, which allowed for the tunnelling of enterprises and the partisan division of privatized national property. These tendencies will be stopped, and the standard legal framework of a market economy will be applied and will have to be respected.
TSS: How do you expect the economic situation to develop in the near future?
IM: Our aIM is to lower the extent of the state's indebtedness, but it seems that within the next few months it will be IMpossible. The debt, which has been steadily increasing, is now enormous, whether we look at direct or indirect debt. This is reflected in the collapse of areas of public consumption, on the part of both the state and citizens. It includes extremely low exports, insufficient foreign investments and dysfunctional capital markets. It is necessary to overcome the hottest economic problems, even by increasing short term indebtedness.
The state budget for 1999 will begin a long term trend towards a gradual lowering of the deficit. Our goal is to get closer to a balanced budget, in terms of a zero fiscal deficit, by the end of our term in office.
TSS: How will you attract more foreign investors to Slovakia?
IM: The first condition was always the political situation in the country, which was fulfilled with the national elections and the formation of the government. Obviously, it is essential to start political and economic reform and to devolop it systematically. The key ingredient, as I see it, is Slovakia's return to the first wave of countries for EU integration, which is a great signal abroad and just increases Slovakia's credibility for foreign investors. We will create clear and attractive conditions for investors to come to Slovakia. We will investigate privatization cases in terms of their legality, because I think that even for foreign investors, the rule of law is a pre-requisite for an effectively working economy.
9. Nov 1998 at 0:00 | Ivan Remiaš