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Draft budget discussed

BETTER than originally planned tax revenues are changing the budgetary mathematics even before the state budget law makes it through parliament. Legislators opened the discussion on December 5, which is expected to last for several days as the opposition loudly criticises the draft document.

BETTER than originally planned tax revenues are changing the budgetary mathematics even before the state budget law makes it through parliament. Legislators opened the discussion on December 5, which is expected to last for several days as the opposition loudly criticises the draft document.

“The year of 2014 will be a turn in the economic growth of Slovakia, as well as in the situation in the labour market,” Finance Minister Peter Kažimír said when introducing the budget draft in parliament, according to the TASR newswire. He stressed the key goal for 2014 would be to get the state budget out of the European Union’s excessive deficit procedure.

The Finance Ministry introduced on December 2 new forecasts for the collection of taxes and levies, which it says should bring an additional €375 million into the state budget in 2014 as compared to September’s estimates. As a consequence, revenues of the state budget have increased from €13.837 billion to €14.108 billion while expenditures have grown too, from €17.223 billion to €17.392 billion. Thus the deficit will be lower by €102 million, at €3.284 billion. This means a decrease from 2.83 percent to 2.64 percent of GDP, TASR wrote.

Out of the additional funds, €30 million should go to the Education Ministry while €52.4 million should be used to pay higher health insurance premiums via the Health Ministry. The Labour Ministry should get an additional €10 million and the Transport Ministry should receive a further €91.8 million for construction of highways and dual carriageways.

Before parliament opened the budget discussion, opposition parties grouped in the People’s Platform (Slovak Democratic and Christian Union [SDKÚ], Christian-Democratic Movement [KDH] and Most-Híd) criticised the draft state budget for introducing new taxes and easing public finance consolidation efforts. The group believes that the budget in its proposed form will only bring further problems.

“Tax licenses are the worst measure and we will fight against them by various means,” Most-Híd vice-chairman Ivan Švejna said, as cited by TASR. “The government resigned on consolidation, it reduces the deficit too little and this will be reflected also in future.”

The SDKÚ described the draft budget as irresponsible, incompetent and based on the philosophy, “Why bother about the future?”

“It is based especially on one-off measures, including those on the income side,” said Pavol Frešo, the SDKÚ chairman.

SDKÚ deputy and former finance minister Ivan Mikloš stressed that Prime Minister Robert Fico’s government does not know how to be thrifty.

“They probably will decrease the public finance deficit below 3 percent, but by means which even worsen the outlook for Slovakia’s economy compared to what the already bad budget for this year assumed,” Mikloš said.

With press reports

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