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Government to make only minor changes to parental allowance payments

The so-called parental benefits (paid by the state to parents or guardians until a child reaches the age of three) will remain in place regardless of whether the parents had or had not worked prior to the moment that they were declared eligible to receive assistance, Prime Minister Robert Fico told journalists at a briefing on Monday, July 8.

The so-called parental benefits (paid by the state to parents or guardians until a child reaches the age of three) will remain in place regardless of whether the parents had or had not worked prior to the moment that they were declared eligible to receive assistance, Prime Minister Robert Fico told journalists at a briefing on Monday, July 8.

Fico was speaking in relation to newly drafted changes to the social benefits system presented by the Labour Ministry. Last week, the ministry presented a legislative proposal according to which state parental allowance would not be paid to mothers on maternity leave who start working. The government is also considering re-introducing a rule that was in effect in the past which stipulated that parents who had worked prior to receiving the benefit should after some time become eligible for a higher sum of money than those who had not worked previously, the TASR newswire wrote.

Fico revealed that the government is also to discuss the issue of subsistence benefits. According to new legislation, recipients of this benefit will be obliged to work for a certain number of hours each month in order to be eligible. "At the same time we're considering introducing certain cuts in social benefits for those who have committed a crime," added the premier. In addition, Fico observed that the measures due to be debated by the government soon are not aimed at consolidating public finances. The money saved should remain in the system and will be used for increasing other types of social benefits.

"We will not consolidate at the expense of the social area and this message will remain true," said Prime Minister Fico as quoted by the SITA newswire. He also said the government has analysed all options to find resources in the social system. "After this analysis, we can conclude that the social system does not allow any room for fiscal consolidation," he said.

However, in his words, the cabinet has been considering the option to renew two levels of the parental allowance, so that a higher allowance is paid to mothers who worked prior to taking maternity leave. He admitted that ultimately the government decided to keep the current wording of the law, according to which all mothers receive the same amount of parental allowance, regardless of whether or not they worked before giving birth.

The Sme daily commented in its Tuesday issue that Fico yielded to the pressure of public opinion and opposition politicians. It also wrote that former labour minister Viera Tomanová, who pushed through a similar move during Fico’s first term without bigger opposition from Fico, believes that the halt is a reaction to the public’s objections. Sme also quoted the Labour Ministry, which refuted Fico’s claim about a single analysis and its results, and admitted that it a set of different documents and data was used for the amendments, impact studies and international comparisons.

(Source: TASR, SITA, 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.

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