Beblavy & Mihal: 2018 State Budget Draft Disregards Living Standards

Miroslav Beblavy (L), Jozef Mihal (R)

Bratislava, October 5 (TASR) – The 2018 state budget draft assumes that the GDP growth in Slovakia will accelerate, while the living standards will somehow be lagging behind, reflecting recent developments with the economic well-being of Slovak households growing at the slowest pace in the Visegrad Four (the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia), Independent MPs Miroslav Beblavy and Jozef Mihal said on Thursday.

Meanwhile, Slovakia is currently witnessing the fastest growth of consumer loans in the eurozone, noted the two MPs.

At the same time, the Government projects on collecting €13.6 billion on income tax and payroll deductions in 2018 – up by €800 million year-on-year.

“The Government should at least moderately reduce taxes and deductions for working people,” suggested Beblavy.

The MP further criticised the fact that while the health-care budget should be increased by 7.7 percent y-o-y, Health Minister Tomas Drucker (a Smer-SD nominee) “keeps postponing substantial measures, health facilities are still being headed by the same compromised managers and new money hardly reaches patients via more available and higher quality health care”.

Conversely, primary and secondary schools will receive only 2.2 percent more money than in 2017, while apart from moderate salary increases for teachers, there will be no substantial investment, stated Beblavy.

“Education must become a priority in the state budget, otherwise we’ll end up like Greece,” believes the MP.

Mihal, a former labour minister, conceded that the Government is due to spend more on social issues, but he criticised what he views as wrong spending purposes. According to him, there’s plenty of evidence that money purported for “active measures of the labour market” ends up in some people’s pockets, while the moves hardly help to boost employment.

Meanwhile, day nurseries still receive little support and child allowances have been allocated even less money by the state budget draft than before – all the while the number of newly born children in Slovakia is falling, cautioned Mihal.