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Kažimír proposes ways to fill gap

FINANCE Minister Peter Kažimír announced on March 12 how he intends to cover the €360-million shortfall in the state budget, about which he reported in previous weeks.

FINANCE Minister Peter Kažimír announced on March 12 how he intends to cover the €360-million shortfall in the state budget, about which he reported in previous weeks.

Over €230 million will come from the reserve gained after pension savers left the second pension pillar, and almost €70 million will be taken from higher dividends from the Slovenský Plynárenský Priemysel (SPP) gas utility and Slovak Electricity Transmission System (SEPS). €59 million will be acquired via various spending cuts and savings in the budgets of individual ministries. Moreover, thanks to shifts in the budget, the ministry managed to allocate an additional €15 million to be used as a one-time injection for regional governments to finance repairs of damaged roads, the SITA newswire reported.

After introducing fiscal consolidation measures, the ministry has begun devoting more attention to measures supporting economic growth, and has already prepared some measures toward that end. Prime Minister Robert Fico cited as examples the capital hike in the Slovak Guarantee and Development Bank and Eximbanka, and interest in continuing programmes of support to small and medium-sized businesses.

“The finance department managed in 2012, and manages as well in 2013, its key task, the consolidation of public funds,” said Fico, as quoted by SITA. “I appreciate that the minister perceives the process of consolidating public finances not only as a technocratic matter but as a matter that influences people’s lives.”

Fico emphasised that the performance of the general government last year was attributable to efforts of the new management of the ministry. He said that even though the previous government left behind unrealistic goals, the originally planned deficit of 4.6 percent of GDP was nevertheless maintained. The gap could be even a tenth of a percentage point narrower, believes Fico. Public finances are developing this year in a similar manner. As the prime minister stressed, nothing has changed with regard to this year’s plan to push the deficit below 3 percent of GDP.

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