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Labour ministry official says Roma draw 4.4 percent of Slovakia’s GDP

Roma living in Slovakia do not participate in the economy of the country in any way and only draw from it and this costs the country up to 4.4 percent of its GDP, said Lucia Nicholsonová, the State Secretary, i.e. deputy minister, of the Labour Ministry from Freedom and Solidarity (SaS) party at a conference on Roma issues on February 29, the TASR newswire reported.

Roma living in Slovakia do not participate in the economy of the country in any way and only draw from it and this costs the country up to 4.4 percent of its GDP, said Lucia Nicholsonová, the State Secretary, i.e. deputy minister, of the Labour Ministry from Freedom and Solidarity (SaS) party at a conference on Roma issues on February 29, the TASR newswire reported.

The labour ministry official added that the whole system is unsustainable in the long term and provides benefits to those who do not need them.

“It cost us all about €3.1 billion, which is 4.4 percent of the GDP,” Nicholsonová stated to TASR.

The conference heard presentations about the outcomes of an analysis of Slovakia's social system that was carried out in cooperation with the World Bank and the UN Development Fund. The findings of the analysis are shocking, said Peter Harrold, the World Bank’s director for Eastern Europe, as reported by TASR, which wrote that his opinions differed from Nicholsonová’s.

The document reported that 62 percent of Slovaks who receive poverty allowances from the state are people without children, a finding which contradicts the commonly-held belief that it is primarily large Roma families who benefit from state allowances. Harrold also noted that employment rates among Roma in Slovakia are the lowest in Europe.

Alekos Tsolakis of the European Commission (EC) said the commission has an interest in how Roma issues are handled in Slovakia. "The EC has taken the initiative and requested that member states prepare programmes for inclusion of Roma. There are a lot of problems when it comes to the Roma integration strategy, including when it comes to the way of thinking," Tsolakis told TASR.

Source: TASR

Compiled by Zuzana Vilikovská from press reports
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