The OECD report about Slovakia issued in June of this year is a sweet-and-sour and gloomy read. It does give the same numbers Finance Minister Peter Kažimír and Prime Minister Robert Fico cite, and confirms that they are right about the success of the country. Those numbers show a fast-growing and not too indebted country, which thanks to its open economy, uses the advantages of the EU open market and is gradually consolidating public finances.
But it also shows numbers the ministers are more reluctant to boast about. Those numbers say that we have been only shamefully consuming our current success. Slovakia is making poor use of the relatively stable performance of its economy to brace itself for future hardships. We are not only failing to deal with possible threats, but also ignoring the very apparent ones today. Not all the problems can be measured with exact data, but the report shows many symptoms that make the illness quite easy to identify.
When reading the following graphs, you should bear in mind two things.
At times the data is several years old, because it is statistically hard to create comparisons between OECD countries. Sometimes we might be looking at data that have improved or worsened in the meantime, but there is no reason to suppose this is a frequent issue. If you want to contemplate the political responsibility for these numbers, it is good to remember that the country has been practically ruled by the Smer party in the past decade (with the exception of a very brief interval).
Another factor to be considered is that Slovakia is dealing with the legacy of decades of socialism. Even a quarter a century of sincere efforts cannot erase that from several indicators. We cannot compare ourselves to Germany, but if you take a look at Estonia or Slovenia, for example, you can often see how far a post-communist country can make it.
1.Desperate effectiveness in the administration of public affairs