News digest: That's €1.2 billion, please

Boris Nemtsov street plate unveiled in Bratislava, Slovaks' petrol tourism in Poland, and PM Heger meets a Meta representative in Davos.

(Source: SME.sk / Hej,ty)

Good evening. The Wednesday, May 25 edition of Today in Slovakia is ready with the main news of the day in less than five minutes.


MPs pass €1.2 billion for families

The package of measures that Finance Minister Igor Matovič (OĽaNO) proposed with the declared intention of supporting families, at a time of rising inflation rates, has sailed through parliament.

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Out of the 131 MPs present in the parliament, 83 voted in favour, while 23 were against. The costs of the measures were the main reason coalition partner Freedom and Solidarity (SaS) gave for rejecting its support.

The price tag of Matovič's package has been estimated at about €1.2 billion, which is about 1 percent of the state budget.

Observers point out that Čaputová can veto the signing of the bill into law based on the way it was passed. Matovič pushed it through the legislative process in a fast-track procedure.

Related: Prime Minister Eduard Heger(OĽaNO) should put Finance Minister Igor Matovič in his place, Economy Minister and SaS leader Richard Sulík said on Rádio Expres. "We have a prime minister here, his name is Eduard Heger, and he must put his minister in his place. It's him who should be asked why he puts up with this abuse of the legislative process," Sulík commented on the approval of the family package from Matovič's ministry in a fast-track legislative procedure.

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Related: During the eight years that Robert Fico (Smer) and Peter Pellegrini (Hlas) were in power, Slovak families became “the largest losers in Europe” with the highest risk of poverty compared to childless families across the European Union, Matovič said during his press conference on May 25.


Petrol tourism

Petrol tourism began at the beginning of February, and Slovaks are still besieging Polish gas stations.

In an effort to slow inflation, the Polish government has temporarily abolished VAT on basic groceries and reduced the fuel tax from 23 to 8 percent. Prices immediately fell.

Slovaks can save tens of euros when making large purchases.

Some Polish filling stations reported a shortage of fuel supplies following the price reduction. Slovaks even filled thousand-litre tanks intended for water with petrol and diesel fuel.


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PHOTO FOR WEDNESDAY

Nemtsov in Bratislava


IN OTHER NEWS

  • During a panel at the World Economic Forum in Davos on May 25, Slovak PM issued a stark warning about the future of Slovakia should Russia defeat Ukraine, as reported by CNN. "If Ukraine fails, Slovakia is next," PM Heger told other EU and business leaders. Heger also criticised EU member states for their heavily dependence on Russian energy. Slovakia is one of them. "We basically traded our values for cheap gas and oil for too long," he said.
  • The Austrian railway company ÖBB has officially withdrawn from the broad-gauge railway project.
  • PM Eduard Heger met Meta representative Nick Clegg at the World Economic Forum in Davos, telling him social media is the biggest source of hate speech, extremism and lies.
  • The police are looking into a threat that appeared on YouTube and concerns a planned mass killing in the Spiš region. An unknown perpetrator threatened on YouTube to kill hundreds of people at the July 2022 summer fair in Spišská Nová Ves. (SITA)
  • Prosecutor of the Special Prosecutor's Office Peter Kysel committed a disciplinary offence, the disciplinary commission of the Prosecutor General's Office concluded at the May 18 oral hearing. Kysel committed the offence when handling the request to release former director of the special police operations office Jozef Rehák from custody. The commission issued a written reprimand to him. (SITA)
  • The Regulatory Authority for Electronic Communications and Postal Services begins to update data in the list of all providers of electronic communications networks and services in Slovakia. The authority can fine companies between €200 and 5 percent of their turnover for failure to comply with the duty or its violation. (SITA)
  • The offer prices of real estate in Slovakia have surged more than 23 percent year on year, according to a commentary published by analysts with the monetary analysis, statistics, and research department at the National Bank of Slovakia. The average price of housing real estate is €2,510 per square metre. It went up by €195 from the previous quarter, analysts wrote. (SITA)
  • The hands of the Regulatory Office for Network Industries (ÚRSO) are partially tied in energy price regulation. The regulator confirmed that the wholesale price accounts for 47 percent of the end-user price of electricity and for 56 percent of the end-user price of natural gas in 2022. The regulator has no influence over wholesale electricity and gas prices. However, regarding other components of energy prices, it has promised to deploy all tools to minimise the upsurge in electricity and gas prices. (SITA)
  • MPs will not vote on government bills on media services and a special tax on the Russian oil at the current session. The parliament voted to move the bills to the session in June. The coalition failed to agree on the latter bill as the SaS party demanded simultaneous reduction in the VAT rate on all petroleum products (diesel, gasoline, and oil). Since the Finance Ministry argued that it would contradict EU laws, SaS suggested reducing excise taxes on diesel and gasoline. (SITA)
  • Progressive Slovakia (PS), a non-parliamentary liberal party that would make it to parliament according to recent polls, no longer supports the continuation of the Eduard Heger government, which according to PS is still headed by former PM and current Finance Minister Igor Matovič (OĽaNO) by de facto. "We'll concentrate all our energy to show voters that politics can be different and that they do not have to choose between chaos and disruption, which we are now witnessing, and corrupt extremists from the SMER and fascist camp," Michal Šimečka declared. PS deputy chair Lucia Plaváková described Matovič's pro family package of €1.2 billion as an ill-thought-out plan by a single person. (SITA)
  • The National Highway Company has signed a contract for the construction of an ecoduct in Svrčinovec, northern Slovakia. The wildlife crossing bridge near the D3 highway will cost €13.6 million. (SITA)
  • Up to a quarter of Slovaks would change their job if they were no longer allowed to work from home at least once a week, a Focus poll for Microsoft shows. The Focus agency surveyed 1,071 employees in late 2021 and early 2022. (SITA)
  • 2,451 Ukrainian refugees entered Slovakia at the Slovak-Ukrainian border on May 24, the Interior Ministry announced.

FEATURE STORY

Ukrainians try to trick AI

We live in an era of biometric revolution, a technology that allows the verification of a person's identity through fingerprints or facial recognition. We encounter it when unlocking a phone, safely accessing company premises or a bank account.

Since 2007 a Slovak company Innovatrics, founded by Ján Lunter Jr., has been involved in biometrics. On a global scale, the company is a strong player that has already verified the identity of more than a billion people.

Recently, the company launched a project to improve the technology. For this purpose, the company has hired five Ukrainians and plans to employ more in the near future.


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