AT A CEREMONIAL congress held by the largest coalition party, Smer, in Nitra on December 6, its leader, Prime Minister Robert Fico, expressed satisfaction with the two-year performance of the Smer-led government, criticised banks for their reluctance to give loans to businessmen and renewed his attacks on the media.
In a speech to the congress Fico also dealt with the global economic and financial crisis and its effect on Slovakia. He criticised Slovaks banks’ recent loans policy.
“We cannot agree to the banking and financial sector becoming significantly more conservative than it was before the crisis, loans becoming more expensive and access to financial resources more difficult,” said Fico, as quoted by the Hospodárske Noviny. Fico believes that Slovak banks are deepening the impact of the financial crisis and said he is ready to take steps to prevent this.
In his speech Fico also spoke about the growing number of jobs cuts in Slovakia due to the crisis. According to him, up to 3,500 jobs are in danger but more than 17,000 are still being advertised, adding that the core problem is the low mobility of the Slovak labour force. The government will do its best to sustain employment at any price, Fico promised.
The Smer boss further revealed that the Slovak government had been prepared to expropriate the 66-percent stake in power producer Slovenské Elektrárne (SE) held by the Italian company Enel if it had not commenced completion of two units of the nuclear power plant in Mochovce. The completion process started in early November and Fico said that the government had literally pushed Enel to this step.
In Nitra, Smer adopted a strategy intended to secure its victory in the 2010 general elections, the SITA newswire wrote. It plans to continue its policy of combining strong social programmes and a market economy in which the state retains a strong position. It added that the Fico government will continue encouraging what it calls patriotism in Slovakia.
15. Dec 2008 at 0:00 | Compiled by the Spectator staff from press reports