Bratislava, January 9 (TASR) – Even though the goal of posting a balanced budget is scheduled only for 2019, Slovakia has full control over its deficit and is meeting all rules, Prime Minister Robert Fico (Smer-SD) told TASR in an interview, noting that a balanced budget shouldn’t be a “sacred cow”.
“I think that a balanced budget should arrive at a time when we can say that we’ve met certain priorities that have been necessary for the country. These priorities are sometimes being fulfilled at the expense of the deficit,” said Fico.
In line with the approved state budget for 2017, the public finance deficit should reach 1.29 percent of GDP this year, while it should drop to 0.44 percent in 2018 and switch to a surplus of 0.16 percent in 2019.
According to the prime minister, the pace of posting a balanced budget is a matter of constant planning and it shouldn’t be achieved at all costs.
“We can say that we’ll post a balanced budget next year, but then we’ll have to say to Health Minister [Tomas] Drucker that he won’t receive €70 million to fix emergency services, we’ll have to say to Education Minister [Peter] Plavcan that he won’t have the money to increase teachers’ salaries, and I could go on,” said Fico, adding that he supports the idea of posting a balanced budget, but the tempo and strategy to achieve that has to be subjected to the Government’s priorities.
The premier further stated that the priorities of the governing coalition were set at the very beginning and were subsequently transferred into the Government Manifesto.
Since the priorities were agreed on beforehand, there are no arguments about them now, stated Fico. “Of course, there are expert discussions, such as the topic concerning minimum wage hikes, but fortunately, and here I want to thank the coalition partners, I don’t see any conflicts. Nor can I see topics that should cause any significant divisions in the coalition,” he added.