The top priority of the government will be consolidation of public finances said Prime Minister Robert Fico after the cabinet approved the government’s programme statement for its four-year tenure on April 27, the SITA newswire reported.
The manifesto does not specify the specific steps that will be taken to reduce the state deficit below 3 percent of GDP in 2013, with the prime minister saying that specific measures will be formulated based on a social dialogue.
"If somebody expected specific figures she or he was mistaken. The government programme is about polices. As far as concrete steps are concerned, these have to be the result of a social dialogue," Fico stated as quoted by SITA.
The prime minister added that after the government programme statement is approved by parliament, a Council of Solidarity will be convened at which all social partners will be represented and it will be tasked with developing specific answers to questions about taxes and other issues.
The prime minister stated that finding savings in expenditures is not most important in itself in order for Slovakia to be positively perceived by European officials in Brussels but that if Slovakia fails to meet the EU’s consolidation target it might be fined €140 million.
Fico said improvement in public finances is important mainly for the country’s stability and its trustworthiness in the eyes of financial markets. Fico added that the government's goal will be to push through a model that supports economic growth and not only the reduction of expenditures.
The Slovak Democratic and Christian Union (SDKÚ) party held a news conference on April 30 and criticised the new government’s programme statement. The deputy chairperson of SDKÚ, Lucia Žitňanská, stated that the government is “preparing to underperform” and that “the ministers are surely not going to work very hard”.
"The government set the bar so low that it can comfortably be stepped over. People will be disappointed," she told SITA, adding that there are very few concrete steps in the statement.
"It is specific where the government will take the money but says little about where and how it will be used," Žitňanská stated, as quoted by SITA.
The head of SDKÚ’s parliamentary caucus, Ľudovít Kaník, told the news conference that the government is offering. "People can be certain that they will not be better off," he told SITA.
Kaník commented that the programme statement has anti-growth measures and that he finds it dangerous that Slovakia, which in the past was known as a country with a favourable and attractive tax system, now has a government that wants to increase taxes higher than in neighbouring countries.
Compiled by Zuzana Vilikovská from press reports
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