Scientists Protesting against Cuts Worth €1 million from SAV Budget

Slovak Academy of Sciences (stock photo by TASR)

Bratislava July 21 (TASR) – Scientists and university lecturers are rejecting the Finance Ministry’s proposal to cut more than €1 million from the Slovak Academy of Sciences (SAV) budget, TASR learnt on Thursday.

The Finance Ministry has recently asked SAV to draft measures by which SAV will economise the money, as the state budget for 2016 hasn’t taken into account two actions approved by the Cabinet – hikes in teachers salaries and state support for milk producers.

“We’re rejecting the Cabinet’s measures against SAV,” said Imrich Barak, SAV employee and representative of the Science Wants to Live! Initiative at a briefing earlier in the day.

“The Government Manifesto states that the Cabinet considers science, research and innovations as ‘above-ministerial categories’. If it’s true, then it’s unacceptable for the Government to patch up holes in the budget of the Education, Science, Research and Sport Ministry with the money dedicated to the development of the Academy (of Sciences),” added Barak.

According to him, interventions in the SAV’s budget aren’t in line with the Cabinet commitments from previous years, when it promised the Academy a stable budget.
Scientist wants the Government to find the money needed for teachers and milk producers in other state reserves such as in funds for fighting corruption or in effective tax collection.

Moreover, scientists along with university lecturers, who came to support their colleagues as well, warned that if SAV loses such a huge amount of money it will be forced to lay off employees.

Nonetheless, in July 2015, SAV chairman Pavol Sajgalik, Finance Minister Peter Kazimir (Smer-SD) and then education minister Juraj Draxler inked the Stabilisation Agreement between SAV and the Slovak Republic guaranteeing SAV a yearly budget of at least €60 million from the state budget for 2016-2018.

“We all see this to be a little strange. Because we have to make up for teachers – not to mention milk producers – who saw a hike in their salaries, and yet we are the very same pedagogical employees as they are,” said Sajgalik, adding that he will sent Kazimir SAV’s statement as well.

The Finance Ministry argues that in order to solve the issue at the dairy market and to increase teachers salaries, it has used a standard tool that includes taking money from all budgetary chapters.
“A total of €25.7 million will be needed for teachers and another €30 million for milk producers,” said Finance Ministry spokesperson Alexandra Gogova, adding that it’s too soon to comment on this issue, as the particular budgetary chapters are only now sending their proposals for the cuts to the ministry.

The Education Ministry is convinced that SAV should keep its €60 million a year, as stated in the Stabilisation Agreement.