THE CABINET of Prime Minister Iveta Radičová approved a draft bill outlining its first state budget on October 6, smoothly navigating among the competing interests that often have the potential to undermine ruling coalitions and bring down governments. The budget plan that will go to parliament projects a state deficit of just over €3.8 billion in 2011, based on total revenues of €13.092 billion and expenditures of €16.916 billion. Though the parliamentary opposition is already grinding its teeth over the draft and Slovakia’s trade unions have not shown much enthusiasm for the plan either, political and economic observers believe that the draft will easily sail through parliament, opening up a new chapter of belt-tightening in the state administration as well as higher taxes on citizens.
The four parties of the centre-right coalition had given their nod to the broad strokes of the budget in late September and the only substantial change made by the cabinet in the allocation of resources among ministries was an extra €20 million flowing to the defence ministry to purchase technology and equipment to help in the remediation of flood damage.
Slovakia’s law stipulates that a draft state budget must be sent to parliament by October 15.
Figeľ was offered a 156-square-metre apartment in the Old Town district in 2001. He rented it for two years before buying it in 2003 for just Sk54,000 (about €1,800). Its value at the time is estimated by the Sme daily to have been several hundred percent more.
Figeľ received the apartment while his KDH party colleague Andrej Ďurkovský was mayor of the Old Town. Ďurkovský is now mayor of the whole of Bratislava. Minister Figeľ has denied that he was granted the apartment because of his party ties or contacts, according to the SITA newswire.
Nevertheless, Figeľ announced on October 6 that he would donate his apartment to charity. Prime Minister Iveta Radičová said that she had expected such a decision from Figeľ.
“I want this apartment to serve charitable goals; I will not be its long-term owner,” Figeľ said, adding that he would shortly explain the details of his decision. “I carry inside me the conviction that at the end of our lives there will remain only what we have given up.”
Figeľ maintains that he originally moved into the apartment to stabilise his family situation.
According to the minister, he had waited for the apartment for four years, during which time his family – he has four children – lived at three different addresses. He said he considers the way he acquired ownership of the apartment to have been legitimate.
“I considered such a solution logical and important in terms of stabilisation of [my] family,” Figeľ said, as quoted by SITA. “At the same time, I was convinced that my response to the [present] situation was my service to the country.”
Figeľ no longer lives in the apartment, which is being used by his daughters. Instead, he owns a house in the Nové Mesto district.
However, Figeľ is not the only public figure to have benefited from the Old Town’s largesse. For example, well-known Slovak actor and humorist Milan Lasica and his wife Magda Vášáryová, who is currently running for the mayoralty of Bratislava, moved into a 135-square-metre apartment on Dostojevského in 1992 in exchange for a different apartment, a five-room state-owned apartment in Karlova Ves, Sme wrote.
Miloslava Zemková, the head of public broadcaster Slovak Radio, received a 150-square-metre apartment on Kozia in 1993 when she herself was mayor of Staré Mesto. She has said that she did not assign the apartment to herself and that it was given to her on condition that she reconstructed it, Sme reported.
Radičová said that if Figeľ had taken any different course of action it would have harmed the whole ruling coalition, since she could have not used the justification employed by her predecessor Robert Fico, who dismissed scandals connected to his coalition partners by saying that they were their own business.
“Every citizen views the government as a whole and I will not use annoying justifications,” she said, as quoted by Sme.
11. Oct 2010 at 0:00 | Beata Balogová