Fiscal council can criticise, but not halt, the irresponsible spending of public money

The budgetary responsibility council struggles to keep its political independence.

Juraj Kotian, Anetta Čaplánová, Ivan Šramko and Viktor Novysedlák of the Council of Budget ResponsibilityJuraj Kotian, Anetta Čaplánová, Ivan Šramko and Viktor Novysedlák of the Council of Budget Responsibility (Source: TASR)

Read in this story:

-What is the fiscal council and what is its role in the administration of public finances?

-How did the council emerge?

-Why does it matter who will lead the council?

In an effort to improve their chances at upcoming general elections, ruling parties are coming up with populist measures like doubling child allowances, the introduction of the 13th pension and scrapping highway fees, leaving it up to independent institutions to warn against their adoption. One of them is the Council for Budget Responsibility (RRZ).

“These measures could increase the general government deficit up to 3 percent, meaning a procedure from the European Commission,” Ivan Šramko, head of the Council for Budget Responsibility, told the public broadcaster RTVS in response to impacts the measures estimated at €800 million would have on general finances.

The Council for Budget Responsibility, also called the fiscal council, was launched in 2012 alongside a package of measures to address Slovakia’s rising debt levels. It was set up to monitor the government’s compliance with fiscal and transparency rules, monitor public finances, assess fiscal sustainability and undertake costing activities.

Related articleGovernment sets a cap to state expenses Read more 

It is perceived as independent and non-partisan, either on the local as well as international level, scoring eight in the OECD Index of independent fiscal institutions independence for 2018, and above the OECD average. A review, which the OECD undertook at the request of the council itself, identified several challenges it faces.

This is a critical time for the council

Scherie Nicol, an analyst from the OECD and member of the review team, recalled that the review has come at a very important time for the RZZ, coincidently at the moment the seven-year term of the first chair of RRZ, Ivan Šramko, ended on June 26, 2019, and when Slovakia will hold the general election scheduled for February 29.

“Both these types of events can be quite critical times for an independent fiscal institution and this is a time where the council could potentially come under influence,” said Nicol when presenting the main findings of the review. “So, having a review like this, including recommendations, can help steer the course for this type of transition.”

The rest of this article is premium content at Spectator.sk
Subscribe now for full access

I already have subscription - Sign in

Subscription provides you with:
  • Immediate access to all locked articles (premium content) on Spectator.sk
  • Special weekly news summary + an audio recording with a weekly news summary to listen to at your convenience (received on a weekly basis directly to your e-mail)
  • PDF version of the latest issue of our newspaper, The Slovak Spectator, emailed directly to you
  • Access to all premium content on Sme.sk and Korzar.sk

Get daily Slovak news directly to your inbox

Top stories

COVID-19 causes restaurant owners to sell their businesses

Hundreds of gastro facilities are being advertised on real estate websites.

A waiter brings a meal to a customer in a Chinese restaurant in Bratislava on May 20, 2020.

Trianon is a trauma for Hungary even a hundred years later

Slovaks and Hungarians look at the events that led up to the Trianon Treaty differently.

Hungarian delegation is leaving the castle Big Trianon after signing the treaty on June 4, 1920.

Some borders start opening ahead of the summer season (news digest)

Matovič and co. visited Czechia. Even foreigners living in Slovakia can travel to Croatia.

PM Matovič, Deputy PM Veronika Remišová and Foreign Affairs Minister Ivan Korčok on board the flight to Prague for the official visit to the Czech Republic on June 3.

Iconic pharmacy Salvator in Bratislava is closer to new life

Bratislava city council wants to resurrect pharmacy after becoming exclusive owner.

The Salvator pharmacy has been closed for more than two decades.