On May 13, Slovak President Ivan Gašparovič signed into law a bill on financial intermediation and financial consulting.
According to the Finance Ministry, the law should provide adequate protection of clients, chiefly those who are easily influenced and vulnerable and whose knowledge of the functioning of the financial market is not sufficient for them to make qualified, rational and independent decisions. A single register of financial intermediators, controlled by the National Bank of Slovakia (NBS), will be created.
The president also signed a law on stimuli for research and development. As of August 1, the education minister or the cabinet will decide who receives state subsidies for research and development. The cabinet will decide on state aid for projects worth over €2 million. The education minister alone will decide on projects up to €2 million.
The opposition has criticised the new rules. An earlier attempt by the opposition SDKÚ party to make the Agency for Support of Research and Development responsible for deciding who should receive public money failed.
The education minister requires two evaluations by independent assessors of applications for subsidies. The current minister, Ján Mikolaj, a nominee of the Slovak National Party (SNS) says he believes this is enough to ensure that subsidies for research and development projects will not be paid to politically well-connected firms.
The independent Slovak Governance Institute points out that although the ministry will get two evaluations of each application, it is not obliged to respect them. It also notes that the new law does allow for any appeal against the rejection of applications. SITA
Compiled by Zuzana Vilikovská from press reports
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