Fico and Archbishop of Bratislava Discuss Economy, Social Policy

Prime Minister Robert Fico receives Archbishop of Bratislava Stanislav Zvolensky (photo by TASR)

Bratislava, January 2 (TASR) – The Slovak economy fared extraordinarily well in 2016, we achieved record employment and a significant fall in the unemployment rate, while the issue of how to translate this even more into people’s living standards is what lies ahead for us, Prime Minister Robert Fico told Archbishop of Bratislava Stanislav Zvolensky at a meeting in the capital on Monday.

“I’m committed to making sure that the Slovak Government has fair relations with the Catholic Church. There are several issues that unite us … especially social affairs, which we primarily discussed with the archbishop,” said the premier, who stated that the meeting had a calm, New Year-esque vibe.

“Considering the interests of the Catholic Church in family policies, I briefed the archbishop on our plan to increase maternity benefit so that it will practically match one’s net income, and to increase family allowance, and concerning other measures,” said Fico.

“We didn’t shy away from issues that will be in the forefront in 2017, that is the rise in the minimum wage. I reiterated the Government’s interest in pushing for increasing the minimum wage and in improving collective bargaining so that salaries, both in productive and non-productive sectors, can rise at a faster pace, because our productivity is high, while salaries aren’t keeping up,” he added.

As regards the separation of Church and state, the premier called this an ‘evergreen’ issue. “Unless there is a model that suits both sides, there’s no point in forcing it,” he said.

Zvolensky called the meeting a ‘courtesy’ one. “I availed myself of this opportunity to wish the prime minister a Happy New Year, and the prime minister has revealed input stemming from the way in which the Government perceives the situation in the Slovak economy,” he said, confirming that the issue of the separation of Church and state wasn’t on the agenda.