Good mood hits ceiling
Economists' optimism with Slovakia's attempt to qualify for the Euro in 2009 has come to a stop. For the first time, a June survey by the Ineko Institute on the likelihood of the currency being accepted on that date showed a drop from the preceding month. The sixteen analysts polled set the chances at 76 percent, one percent less than in May.
"The main risk for entry into the Eurozone has become the sustainability of a low public finances deficit, along with low inflation", stated World Bank economist Anton Marcinčin.
"The Premier has stated on a number of occasions that the public finances deficit criterion is preventing him from conducting a more social policy, and so after coming into the Eurozone government spending could increase", is the way Ineko institute head Eugen Jurzyca describes economists' fears. In his opinion, this factor will certainly be taken into consideration in assessing Slovakia's accession chances. July 11
We pay the most for electricity
In relation to their incomes, Slovaks are paying the most for electricity of all the countries of the European Union. This statistic comes out of a comparison of prices over the last year released by the European Statistics Office, Eurostat. According to their conclusions, these high costs apply to households and industry alike.
Energy companies on the other hand warn that such a comparison need not be objective. Production costs for energy often stand at between 60 and 70 percent, and these originate on international markets. "Local parity of purchasing power cannot therefore be used relevantly", maintains Slovenské elektrárne (Slovak Power Company) spokesman Juraj Kopřiva.
Eurostat's methodology also fails to convince distribution companies -- "The data come from an incorrect exchange rate and parity calculation, and most of all they have put into their calculations incorrect prices for the products not only of ZSE, but also of VSE and SSE. Lat year Eurostat mixed the rates for households and businesses and thus created a non-existent customer category. I have the impression that the same has occurred this year", said Ján Orlovský from Západoslovenská energetika (West Slovakia Energy). July 10
Slovak road tolls will be lower
Rates for using Slovak roads are going to be lower than originally planned. The decision was taken by the Government, reducing the initial Ministry of Transport proposal by one-fifth. This was welcomed by transporters but greeted less heartily by the Ministry itself, which stands to lose billions.
The electronic system for collecting tolls will come into effect in January, 2009. Charges will apply to about 2 500 kilometers of motorways, expressways and I., II. and III. class roads. So far, prices have been revealed for cargo vehicles alone -- drivers hauling up to 12 tonnes will pay at most 2,80 crowns per motorway kilometer, while heavier trucks will pay up to a maximum of 6,30.
Who saves? In comparison with the current sticker system, electronic tolls will benefit drivers who use motorways less than 5 000 kilometers per year. On the other end of the scale are transporters, whose costs are set to rise. This brings into question the price of the transported goods: the Association of Road Haulers warns that firms may add these extra costs to the consumer price of their products. July 6
English translation by Kevin Slavin
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