Ersek: Without Loosening Debt Brake We Won’t Have Money for Highways

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(Stock photo by TASR)

Bratislava, May 4 (TASR) – New tenders for the construction of highways can’t be announced before securing money for them, so it’s now necessary to wait for a proposal to appear in Parliament on releasing the public debt brake, Transport and Construction Minister Arpad Ersek (Most-Hid) stated on Thursday.

“If the [proposal on relieving the] debt brake isn’t passed, we won’t have the financial resources for major projects,” said Ersek at the 2017 Meeting of Slovak Construction Leaders in Bratislava.

At the same time Ersek said that he doesn’t have any good indications from Parliament that such a proposal could be approved.

Nonetheless, analyst Jan Kovalcik from the INEKO think-tank at the meeting noted that the debt brake in fact doesn’t represent such a huge obstacle to highway construction as does the lack of properly prepared construction projects; even though the National Highway Company (NDS) has spent millions of euros for drawing up dozens of projects. In fact, only two minor projects are currently properly prepared, while only another two similar constructions could be planned out within a year, claimed Kovalcik.

Pavol Kovacik, president of the Association of Slovak Construction Businesses (ZSPS), concurred with Kovalcik, pointing to the departure of too many experts from NDS in the past year as the chief cause of the situation.

“While several dozens of projects used to be under preparation at the same time in the past, there are only a few such projects at the moment, as NDS’s capability of preparing [projects] has declined,” said Kovacik.

NDS general director Jan Durisin disagreed, however, stating that individual projects have been prepared, and if money is found, some 20 tenders could be launched by 2020.