Parliament on Wednesday, December 7, approved Slovakia's state budget for 2012, with 75 out of the 133 MPs present backing the government's proposal with some modifications. The budget projects a deficit of 4.6 percent of GDP.
The initiative was passed thanks to the absence of 17 opposition Smer legislators, although the remaining 45 members of Smer's caucus voted against the bill, the TASR newswire wrote. Smer leader Robert Fico had signalled beforehand that some of his MPs would absent themselves in order to allow the budget to pass, although those who remained maintained the party’s position of voting against the measure. Smer's indirect support for the budget was conditional on the earmarking of an extra €50 million for health-care funding. The bill was backed by all MPs from the parties of the former ruling coalition: the Slovak Democratic and Christian Union (SDKÚ), Freedom and Solidarity (SaS), the Christian Democratic Movement (KDH), and Most-Híd, with independent legislator Andrej Ďurkovský (previously of the KDH) also supporting it. Meanwhile, the Slovak National Party (SNS) caucus voted against the budget proposal, as did two former SNS caucus members, Anna Belousovová and Rudolf Pučík. Four lawmakers from the 'Ordinary People' grouping led by Igor Matovič abstained.
The deficit next year should reach €3.675 billion, with revenue of €13.625 billion and expenditure of €17.3 billion. Compared to the government's original proposal, the deficit has swollen by over €350 million. The deficit was originally planned to reach 3.8 percent of GDP in 2012, according to TASR. Both revenue and expenditure underwent modifications, due mainly to lower-than-forecast economic growth and tax revenues, and the failure to undertake payroll-tax reform. Over €800 million was added to the expenditure side of the budget after the Government approved the original budget proposal, with €690 million of the figure being due to a downgrade in forecast GDP growth to 1.7 percent.
An additional €103 million should flow in to the budget, thanks mainly to changes in the macroeconomic prognoses and lower co-funding of EU projects.
The Ordinary People MPs said they were willing to support the budget only if the political parties promised to waive half the payments they receive from the state for elections, and to freeze MPs’ pay until Slovakia has a balanced budget. Their conditions were not met and thus they did not vote for the budget, the Sme daily wrote on Thursday, December 8.
Sources: TASR, Sme
Compiled by Zuzana Vilikovská from press reports
The Slovak Spectator cannot vouch for the accuracy of the information presented in its Flash News postings.
8. Dec 2011 at 10:00