Three social packages to cost €1 billion

THE FUNDS required from the government for the second package of social measures will neither exacerbate, nor be a deficit to Slovakia’s debt.

PM Robert FicoPM Robert Fico(Source: TASR)

The second package should cost €300 million. In all, the cabinet is set to spend €1 billion on all three social packages.

“We have already delivered the first package, which was valued at €250 million in total, and both the deficit and debt are falling,” Prime Minister Robert Fico told the press on August 4, as quoted by the TASR newswire. “Let me point out again what S&P rating agency had to say – there’s no need to fear the social packages as they’re primarily funded by higher levels of tax revenue, the fight against tax evasion, and obviously by an economy that is improving, due to both external and internal factors which have kick-started the economy as a whole.”

Read also:VAT, wages, pensions and more addressed

The government expects that increases in the level of tax revenue will yield an extra €1.6 billion between 2014-16, said Fico.

“We’re making good progress regarding this plan, so I can say that the overall value of the first, second and third social packages plans will be €1 billion,” the PM added, as quoted by TASR. The government plans to unveil the third package this December.

One of the first measures within the second package is to be discussed by the government on August 26. It proposes to halve the 20-percent VAT on selected foodstuffs.

“We’re in the final stages of this,” Fico said. “We’re putting the finishing touches to the list of items. But what I said at our [Smer party’s] congress still holds – we’re talking about fresh meat, milk, bread and some fish products here.”

Read also:List of foods with reduced VAT almost finished

Among other measures introduced within the second package is the aid to regions plagued by unemployment above 20 percent, with tax relief schemes, such as levy relief, alternative access to investment support and a different approach to infrastructure projects.

“We’ll be holding consultations in Bratislava on August 18 with mayors, entrepreneurs and local municipality officials from areas where jobless rates top 20 percent,” said Fico, as quoted by TASR.

Additionally, maternity benefit should be increased from 65 to 70 percent of a parent’s income, while the state’s child care allowance for parents of children up to three years of age is to be raised from €230 to €280.

Among other measures that are part of the second package are the proposals to increase the minimum wage from €380 to at least €400 per month, to increase the number of children in kindergartens, to build new modular primary schools, to contribute to ski courses for schoolchildren, to fund travelling stays of low-income families, to reduce the additional charge for medication, to refurbish wards in state-run hospitals, to reduce the cost of thermal insulation for residential homes and to contribute to the ecological energy sources of households.

The cabinet also suggests the introduction of lower bank account costs with monthly fees not exceeding €3 and changes to invoices which should prevent excessive tax deduction by companies within the construction industry, the Sme daily wrote.

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