The main opposition party, the Slovak Democratic and Christian Union (SDKÚ) is set to propose an extension to the period during which the unemployed can receive unemployment benefits, an initiative that the party is promoting for the third time.
"We're going for a compromise. As the government is mulling extending the period of drawing unemployment benefits to eight months, we've come up with a proposal for this period," said SDKÚ vice-chair and former labour minister Iveta Radičová. Apart from extending the period concerned from six to eight months, SDKÚ also wants to ease the conditions for receiving the benefits. In order to be eligible for payments at the moment, a person has to have been employed for three out of the past four years. SDKÚ proposes that only 20 months out of the last three years should be needed for entitlement to the dole.
Radičová justified the initiative by pointing to concerns that over 100,000 people will fall into a "poverty trap" as of January 2010. After being registered as unemployed at job centres for six months, during which they receive half of their original salaries, the unemployed are only entitled to payments of around €60 a month. "In such a situation it makes no difference whether the proposal is submitted by the coalition or the opposition," said Radičová.
Speaking on TV Markíza's politics show 'Na Telo' on Sunday, October 11, Finance Minister Ján Počiatek said that the idea of providing unemployment benefits for eight instead of the current six months is being currently discussed by the government. The other speaker on the show – SDKÚ vice-chair, and Počiatek’s predecessor as finance minister, Ivan Mikloš - said that he doesn't believe Počiatek's claims, labelling them "empty words". "The government didn't allocate a single euro for prolonging unemployment benefits in the state budget [proposal] for next year," said Mikloš on the show. TASR
Compiled by Jana Liptáková from press reports
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