Smer slams Figeľ over highways

OPPOSITION leader Robert Fico has criticised Transport Minister Ján Figeľ for putting the first PPP package for highway construction on ice.

OPPOSITION leader Robert Fico has criticised Transport Minister Ján Figeľ for putting the first PPP package for highway construction on ice.

Fico said Figeľ had gravely harmed the interests of Slovakia and claimed that the decision had resulted in the loss of 5,000 jobs, deprived the state budget of €120 million in monthly VAT revenue, and redirected future transit traffic to and across Hungary, the SITA newswire reported.

Fico’s Smer party plans to raise the issue in parliament, and perhaps initiate an extraordinary session of parliament.

“We want the minister to explain in parliament why he lied to the public,” Fico said, as quoted by SITA. “The cabinet is not able to build highways without PPP projects. Unless we see some self-reflection from Mr. Figeľ then I do not rule out a no-confidence motion against him after the extraordinary session.”

Fico said he regards as ‘treason’ the decision not to sign the deal for the PPP project after the concessionaire offered to reduce the annual instalment to between €190 million and €210 million. The previous government was ready to sign the contract with an annual instalment of €289 million under worse market conditions because it was financially viable, Fico maintained.

The Transport Ministry has already submitted a proposal to cabinet to increase its budget by €81 million to cover costs associated with the cancellation of the PPP project. The resolution draft asks for the budget to be raised by October 15. Almost €38 million should cover already completed preparatory works, €13.4 million will go on conservation of the construction site and €29.6 million on consultants, technical assistance to the National Highway Company, experts’ opinions, and property settlement, SITA wrote.

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