The first quarter of 2008 was the worst in terms of social and economic development since the current government came to power in July 2006, according to the INEKO Institute's Assessment of Economic and Social Measures (HESO), released on May 22 in Bratislava. The think-tank highlighted the deterioration in the "atmosphere of reform" as well as specific measures adopted, according to project co-ordinator Dušan Zachar, who adds that it was the worst quarter since INEKO began its quarterly report in 2000. According to Zachar, the rating of the first quarter of 2008 reached a value of minus 35.9.
The finance ministry has dismissed the report. “The decisive figures for Slovakia's Finance Ministry are official statistical data and assessments made by international institutions and rating agencies. The last assessment was made in connection with the adoption of the euro in Slovakia, and the result is clear,” the ministry’s spokesman, Miroslav Šmál, told the TASR newswire, reacting to the report. According to the commission, comprising 51 experts, which put together the INEKO report, there were some positives. They included discounts and the simplification of the process for securing preventive health examinations for employees of small firms.
But INEKO says the most harmful measure in terms of contributing to social and economic development was, according to the professional public, the so-called ‘plug act’, or the universal obligation to pay the Slovak Television and Slovak Radio licence, which also affects employers (depending on the number of their employees). Another negatively-evaluated measure in the first three months of this year was the consolidation of Slovak Post's monopoly over parcels under 50 grams, as well as registered letters. The INEKO commission also marked the government down for its decision to leave Bratislava’s M.R. Štefánik Airport in state hands. TASR
Compiled by Zuzana Vilikovská from press reports
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