Ján Oravec, president of the F.A. Hayek Foundation and the Association of Slovak Entrepreneurs (ZPS), commented on November 17 that Slovaks enjoy a higher standard of living now than 19 years ago [before the Velvet Revolution], even if they don’t want to admit it.
The current offer (of goods and services) cannot be compared to that of 1989, he said. Oravec regards economic transformation, specifically privatisation, the main positive that has been brought about by the change of political regime. In a relatively short time, state property was transferred to private hands and the private sector now creates 92-96 percent of GDP. In 1989, 100 percent of GDP was created by the state, he remarked.
Oravec emphasised that the main mistakes after November 1989 included hesitating on reforms. He said the banks provided a good example of this. They initially remained in the hands of the state, and later, when they were being privatised, bailing them out cost Slovaks more than Sk100 billion (€3.319 billion) that could have been saved.
Oravec said that as for liberalisation, it was debated in the early years after the revolution whether Slovakia would follow a pure free market path or try to find a third way, but "in the end we opted for a market economy". In his opinion, Slovakia should now resist the danger of reverting to state intervention and regulation of business and prices, which he sees as a major challenge today.
Not going along with this trend, which is being promulgated in the EU, will be difficult in light of the current financial and economic crisis, he said. TASR
Compiled by Zuzana Vilikovská from press reports
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18. Nov 2008 at 16:00