In the run up to the March 5 parliamentary elections the ruling Smer party unveiled at its party congress a so-called third social package with measures focused on reduction of unemployment, reconstruction of school dormitories and roads, as well as bolstered security from terrorist threats. The changes would come if the party is re-elected, Prime Minister Robert Fico said. The package with a price tag of €1 billion includes creation of 100,000 jobs by 2020, additional reduction of health-care insurance contribution for people with low salaries, building rental apartments for young families and teachers, refurbishing student dormitories, doubling of the Christmas bonus for pensioners, reconstruction of 1,000 km of regional roads, free bus connections to train stations and bolstering security.
In total the Transport Ministry received four bids to design, build and operate the 59 km Bratislava bypass to be built via a so-called PPP (public-private partnership). All envelopes were opened on December 7. The international consortium Obchvat Nula led by the Spanish company Cintra Infraestructuras International submitted the lowest bid, a net amount for the project of €997.53 million and an annual payment of €56.72 million. Thus the state could pay the consortium €1.702 billion, including the impact of inflation. This is significantly below the state estimate that ranged between €135 million and €151 million for the annual payment and the estimated total price of €4.53 billion for the whole concession.
Shortly after the private passenger rail carrier RegioJet announced its withdrawal from the Bratislava-Košice route, the state-operated railway passenger carrier ZSSK decided to scrap its InterCity (IC) trains on this route, citing their ongoing loss-making operation. ZSSK plans to stop its IC trains as of mid-January. ZSSK’s competition on the route, RegioJet, began to operate this route last December. Thus passengers were able to travel with unsubsidised ZSSK IC trains and RegioJet’s trains as well as subsidised express trains operated by ZSSK. Measures enabling free rail transport for children, students and pensioners pertained to the latter.
A new air link to the Macedonian capital Skopje will be launched at Bratislava Airport in March 2016 by the Hungarian low-cost airline Wizz Air. The flights will take place twice a week, as the airliner announced on December 2. With the new route to Skopje, the airline will offer a total of six routes from three Slovak airports: Bratislava, Košice and Poprad.
The Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency (KOTRA) opened its 124th office in Bratislava with the aim of supporting trade and investment cooperation between South Korean and Slovak companies. The Slovak Automobile Industry Association believes that KOTRA can help develop the network of suppliers in Slovakia, as the automotive industry here continues to grow.
Construction of the new assembly hall at the Volkswagen Bratislava complex, where the Porsche Cayenne will be assembled, began on December 15. The carmaker will invest €300 million into constructing the plant and related infrastructure. After completion (scheduled for late 2017), 400 people will work there on one shift. The investment is already the third one to have been announced this year, after starting production in the Audi Q7 body shop and construction of the Porsche body shop.
A fourth carmaker, the British Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) company, is coming to Nitra. Slovakia will support the £1 billion investment with stimuli of €130 million. The plant in Nitra will manufacture a range of all-new aluminium Jaguar Land Rover vehicles.
EPH to acquire a share in SE. Italian energy group company Enel agreed with Czech Energetický a Průmyslový Holding (EPH) over the sale of half of the 66-percent stock in the dominant Slovak energy producer Slovenské Elektrárne (SE).
29. Dec 2015 at 6:25 | Compiled by Spectator staff