Controversial measures adopted before elections

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Controversial measures adopted before elections

13. 02. 2020 14:32

The Government on Wednesday approved a draft law on doubling allowances for children as well as an adjustment to the law that will guarantee thirteenth pension payments for all categories as of December 2020. The monthly child allowances will increase by € 25.05, and thirteenth pension payments should be worth the full amount of the current average of all the individual pension payments, which stands at € 460.40. Both measures are to cost Slovak taxpayers over € 700 million. Moreover, the Government approved the revocation of motorway vignettes for vehicles weighing less than 3.5 tonnes and a decision allowing Parliament to adopt all three measures in a fast-track procedure.

The measures adopted by the government only 3 weeks before the general election have raised a strong wave of criticism not only from the opposition parties.

The Presidium of the Federation of employers' associations of the Slovak Republic considers the government-approved proposals as a circumvention of social dialogue and populism. "It is clear populism and an election agenda that comes at the wrong time," said its spokeswoman Miriam Filova. She pointed out that these proposals were not budgeted, so that they would ultimately be paid for by citizens and entrepreneurs. Moreover, if the revocation of motorway vignettes, that according to the Ministry of finance should cost around € 70 million, is approved by the parliament, the National Motorway Company claims it will not be able to ensure the operation and maintenance of motorways. The proposals have also been criticised by the Council for Budget Responsibility, an independent fiscal watchdog. "The measures would increase the general government budget deficit by an additional almost 0.5% of GDP this year and 0.8% of GDP in the upcoming years," said its head Ivan Šramko.

Moreover, the opposition extra-parliamentary Progressive Slovakia-Together coalition stated it would file a motion with the Prosecutor-General's Office over all three measures. The coalition argues that the fact the Government wants Parliament to adopt these measures in fast-track proceedings is against the law. MEP Lucia Duris Nicholsonova also intends to file a criminal complaint with the Prosecutor-General's Office over the misuse of a public official's powers.

Meanwhile, Slovak Prime Minister Peter Pellegrini views these measures as a responsible investment in the nation's future and thinks Slovakia can afford them and, according to the Parliamentary Chair and Slovak National Party (SNS) leader Andrej Danko the enactment of the 13th pension payment has been announced by the governing parties for a long time so "nothing bad is happening."

Romana Grajcarová, Photo: TASR

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