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Underdeveloped regions will receive aid

THE GOVERNMENT plans to implement tailor-made action plans in order to foster the development of selected districts and create jobs as part of its second package of social measures.

Illustrative stock photo(Source: Sme - Pavol Funtál)

The Transport Ministry has already submitted a bill to this effect for inter-departmental review. Employers approve the aid, but are careful when talking about its effectiveness.  

The new bill should define the “least developed district” as one with an unemployment rate that has been at least 1.9 times higher over the past at least nine out of 12 quarters than the country-wide average, the TASR newswire wrote.

Once such a district is determined and it becomes entitled to assistance, the ministry should come up with a tailor-made action plan within six months. Any such action plan for five years is projected to contain specific measures, their implementing authorities, sources of funding and the assessment of the progress attained. After such a plan is passed by the newly-created Council for the Development of Regions, the ministry will submit it for government approval.

The action plans should receive funding from ministry resources and EU funds, according to TASR.

The current wording of the law indicates that there are only five districts that would be entitled to help: Rimavská Sobota, Revúca, Kežmarok, Rožňava, and Poltár, the public-service Radio and Television of Slovakia (RTVS) reported.

The Federation of Employers’ Associations (AZZZ) welcomes the plan to help underdeveloped regions, but remains sceptical.

“It will create some kind of positive mycelium, some good conditions, but for receiving investments and improving the situation it is necessary to build infrastructure,” Branislav Masár, executive director of AZZZ, told RTVS.

The non-parliamentary Sieť party, however, disagrees with the new law, questioning its effectiveness.

“It currently does not concern even 10 percent of Slovakia’s districts and the promises of support it contains are very vague,” Sieť chair Radoslav Procházka said, as quoted by TASR.

The party proposes to substitute the system with a clearer model of supporting investments via regional economic zones. Under the plan investors would immediately receive 15 percent of their investment back if the unemployment in the districts exceeds 15 percent. In case of districts with more than 20 percent unemployment, investors would receive 20 percent of the total investment, as reported by TASR.

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