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SLOVAK WORD OF THE WEEK

Armagedon

JUST as we survived the end of the Mayan calendar, another Armageddon has come into view, although this one says outright that its liability is limited. The tale of Armagedon, s.r.o., its boss and owner Richard Duchovný (for all you X-Files fans, ‘duchovný’ means ‘spiritual’ or ‘ghostly’ in Slovak), and the Magic Trading Corporation, which seems to be behind all this, is interesting not only because of the collection of creepy names. It explains the feeling of doom that comes at the end of March, when it’s time to pay taxes.

JUST as we survived the end of the Mayan calendar, another Armageddon has come into view, although this one says outright that its liability is limited. The tale of Armagedon, s.r.o., its boss and owner Richard Duchovný (for all you X-Files fans, ‘duchovný’ means ‘spiritual’ or ‘ghostly’ in Slovak), and the Magic Trading Corporation, which seems to be behind all this, is interesting not only because of the collection of creepy names. It explains the feeling of doom that comes at the end of March, when it’s time to pay taxes.

Sceptics always expect the state to be wasting their money. But this? Renting a warehouse for a century for three or four times the market price with no chance of filling the building up in any foreseeable decade? Here you can see everything that is wrong with public procurement – people buying stuff they don’t need for overblown prices with no one being held responsible.

In a new survey of foreign investors the state got an average mark of 4.19 (on a scale of 1 to 5, where five is the worst) for its performance in fighting corruption and crime and 4.04 for transparency in public tendering, the worst results for any of the 20 monitored categories and in both cases down from previous periods. It is little surprise – Robert Fico’s cabinet has no credible plan for combating cronyism, its nominees show little enthusiasm for real change, and often themselves have a history of scandals. Sadly, it is not just the waste of money for various absurd items that matters. As long as the government is full of people who see public service primarily as a means of promoting their own business interests, state administration will continue to have its apocalyptic qualities.

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