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Fico uses Smer congress to attack opposition

Prime Minister Robert Fico told his Smer party congress that the current government has done more for people than the previous one managed to do in eight years in power.

Prime Minister Robert Fico told his Smer party congress that the current government has done more for people than the previous one managed to do in eight years in power.

The congress in Prešov marked the party’s eighth anniversary on December 8. Among Smer’s biggest achievements, Fico listed the lowest ever state budget deficit and meeting the Maastricht criteria, the SITA newswire wrote.

Other achievements included keeping prices of highway stickers and gas prices unchanged, while prices of electricity will only go up moderately. The government already paid two Christmas bonuses to pensioners, increased contributions for first-born children and cut VAT on books and drugs. The current government also returned to disabled people what they lost under the previous one, he said.

"We do not intend to sacrifice people in the name of beautiful figures," said Fico.

The Smer leader also introduced four priorities of his party for the next year: fast highway construction, adoption of the euro, the fight against the increase of prices, and using money from EU funds.

Fico again accused the former ruling coalition, led by the Slovak Democratic and Christian Union (SDKÚ), of manipulating the selection process for the sale of the 49-percent stake in the SPP gas utility.

Also at the congress, the Smer party officially announced that it will support current Slovak President Ivan Gašparovič in the presidential elections scheduled for 2009.

-SITA

Compiled by Jana Liptáková from press reports

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