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SLOVAK WORD OF THE WEEK

Diaľnice

BY LISTENING to what Smer leader Robert Fico says, you would think he was a fully-fledged communist: “Everyone will probably agree that the speedy construction of highways and the financing of health care are vital public interests, which override any interest of the individual.”

BY LISTENING to what Smer leader Robert Fico says, you would think he was a fully-fledged communist: “Everyone will probably agree that the speedy construction of highways and the financing of health care are vital public interests, which override any interest of the individual.”

This is no leaked wiretap or secret recording from the party’s Christmas get-together, but the opposition leader’s official reaction to the Constitutional Court’s decision to annul two key pieces of legislation he adopted as prime minister – the law enabling the state to build highways (diaľnice) on private property even before the conclusion of proper expropriation proceedings, and the law banning private health insurers from paying dividends on profits.

However, this week’s other big news concerning highways paints a more colourful picture of Fico’s administration.

When in the spring of last year the cabinet approved a huge increase in the price of planned roads, it did so based on an analysis submitted by the Transport Ministry.

For months, the media has pointed out that the numbers were fake, a fact confirmed even by the consultancy firm that produced the original analysis, which openly said that someone within the administration just took their document and changed the figures.

That is unlikely to have been the work of a zealous low-level bureaucrat. And given the fact that former transport minister Ľubomír Vážny made it into Smer’s recently introduced shadow cabinet, it is also unlikely that he went behind the PM’s back and manipulated the largest public contract in the country’s history on his own.

The main problem with the previous government wasn’t that it put the interests of the public over the interests of the individual.

The main trouble was that it did the exact opposite – approving absurd legislation, sending bulldozers onto private property, and hugely overpaying for public contracts to fill the pockets of its cronies.

For the past four years the country wasn’t on the road to communism. It was just Fico and his pals on the superhighway to El Dorado.


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