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May/June 2019

Challenges for Slovak policy
New Compass for Slovakia
Ozalj - a small hydroelectric power station
Slunjčické Waterfalls
Is she president or not?
Shadow Banking Industry Flourishing
Risky Whims of Washington
Bayterek and Its Legends
"Grandmother of Marrakesh"
Medieval Leather Processing
“City in town”


Challenges for Slovak policy

Neither the economic growth of Slovakia, the idol of all post-November Slovak governments, nor privatization, foreign investment or "generous" European funds were able to ensure a balanced or surplus state budget for Slovakia. This situation has practically lasted since the dissolution of Czecho-Slovakia, for 26 years. And so far, there is no indication that the Slovak government will manage to change this situation in the coming years. This year's planned deficit is worth more than two billion euros. This is the value of, for example, 14 pieces of contracted and overpriced US F-16 fighters (1.6 billion euros), together with annual government spending on housing and civic amenities (375 million euros). Slovakia's national debt is still worth more than EUR 40 billion (48.9% of GDP). It is more than two state budgets. By comparison, the slight reduction in government debt since 2013 (54.6% of GDP) has continued but has not yet reached the 2009 level of government debt (35.6% of GDP). Until January 1, 1993, when Slovakia began to exist as a sovereign state, its external debt was 2.3 billion US dollars.

From 2020, Slovakia will face at least twenty years of continuing natural population decline, which will, for example, further increase the shortage of domestic skilled labour. Almost 70,000 foreigners (mostly from Ukraine, Serbia and Romania) already work in Slovakia, mostly in production and assembly plants. However, Slovakia is not alone in this trend. The depopulation of the once self-sufficient regions, the gradual extinction and aging of the indigenous population, the departure of the younger generation for careers and work in the so-called wealthier western states in Europe or overseas, afflict almost all Central European, Balkan and Baltic states. While some governments seek to find an effective recipe and subsidies to support birth rates, young families and housing to slow or stop these trends, the pursuit of a “better life, career and higher earnings” is stronger than a bond to home country or awareness the well-known proverb "Less is sometimes more".

According to estimates, Slovakia has been left by more than 300,000 citizens in the past 15 years, at productive age, most often university educated young people under 30 years. Traditionally, the highest rates of migration abroad have been reported by districts in eastern Slovakia. In the last 10 years alone, approximately 6% of the population has moved out. Is it much or little? Did they have to leave? Some of them wanted to know how to live and work outside Slovakia, some of them had to survive and feed their families. But what mirror of the truth did they set the state, its governments, regional and local government, or churches with such decisions? Yes, also to churches, because they are also part of the national economy, which is based on the principles of "social and ecologically oriented market economy", as stated in the Constitution of the Slovak Republic. Churches are part of the market, not just a subsidy policy, they own and rent land, forests, meadows, pastures, they can establish farms, production and commercial operations or social enterprises. Of course, if they want to help the state and its citizens to increase employment, support domestic production, tourism and rural development, reduce the young generation's departure abroad and the breakdown of marriages and families as a result of finding work beyond the borders of Slovakia.

In any case, all of us as taxpayers contributed to the education of outgoing young people (high school or university). Like solidarity, we are also contributing to the education of several thousand students from Ukraine who have an exception and are studying free of charge throughout the EU at public colleges and universities in all Member States. In other words, we have invested and invested in their education and development so that as Slovak citizens (Ukrainian) they pay taxes and levies in the western EU countries, the USA, Canada or Australia, where they have been employed, start their own business and build their careers. It is a pity that, in their case, the state cannot apply the practices of professional sport. It applies the principle that if a professional player moves from one club to another, the club that has brought him up and invested in his sporting career will count those investments in the "prize of the player" he sells or "releases" to another club. In this context, the question arises: why is the European Union unable to transform itself into a federal or confederate state with harmonized pay, with a single tax and levy system? How many years will it take to significantly reduce regional differences in living standards within the EU in order to slow down the migration of its citizens?

Slovakia it has been approaching advanced Member States (to old Europe) for 30 years and still shows below-average living standards of the EU. How is this possible after so many years of economic reforms, recommendations of the IMF, OECD, World Bank or the European Commission? The statistics confirm that Slovakia, together with the Czech Republic, Portugal, Slovenia and Cyprus, ranks among the mid-developed EU Member States (GDP per capita more than 75%). But beware, its overall approach to the EU average has been slowing down for several years. What happened? Real GDP per capita based on purchasing power standards has been around 77% of the EU average for 5 years (since 2014). And the gross national income per capita has been stable since 2013 - at a level 76% of the EU average. What is the problem when wages are constantly rising and macroeconomic indicators are positive? Why is the real purchasing power of the population declining due to proclaimed wage growth and at the same time rising prices of food, other goods and services?

Among OECD countries, Slovakia shows the fourth most significant regional differences in GDP per head among small regions. The region of Bratislava has reached three times higher GDP per capita (184% of the EU average) than Eastern Slovakia (53%). The level shown by Eastern Slovakia reached the Slovak Republic before joining the EU in 2004! After Greece, Slovakia is the second country with the highest dependence on the economic power of the capital. But only 12% of the state's population lives in its metropolitan area, which accounts for up to 28% of the nation's gross domestic product. Western Slovakia has the lowest unemployment rate among young people aged 15-24 (9.8%), while in Eastern Slovakia this unemployment rate is as high as 30%.

The draft vision and development strategy of Slovakia until 2030 states that in 2017 the state invested 3.4 billion euros in education, which was almost 10% of total public expenditure (4% of GDP). This is one percent less than the EU average (5% of GDP). Mind you - we still compare only with the EU average, we are not talking about the goal of reaching or exceeding the EU average. This year, the state invests € 3.7 billion in education (most social security - up to € 12.9 billion) in public spending. The European Commission criticizes Slovakia for investing little in education. For several years, it has been witnessing a deterioration in knowledge within the international testing of 15-year-old primary school pupils (PISA). The average results of Slovak pupils (463 points) are significantly below the OECD average (492 points). The share of pupils with excellent results has decreased and the share of pupils with poor results is high and is still increasing. Again, we compare Slovak pupils with the average, but why do we not want to motivate them to achieve above-average results? It is said to be related to the social and economic situation of pupils and their "overload". If pupils are really overloaded with 'knowledge and knowledge requirements', why do they paradoxically achieve below-average testing results? And which elementary schools overburden them - poorer or richer, public, private or church?

Let's also look at secondary education. Slovakia has a long-term high share of secondary school educated youth, but up to 75% of secondary school graduates do not find employment in the field they have studied. And every year, there are more than 34,000 graduates in the labour market who are lacking in the economy to reproduce the workforce in professional positions. By 2024 it will even be 46,000, forecasters say. Who will replace them?

In my opinion, these are topics to be addressed in the current Slovak political scene as a priority and in the long term. Coalition and opposition. Raising the standard of living and quality of life in Slovakia, strengthening legal certainty and the rule of law, economic development of regions and rural areas, restoring food self-sufficiency in Slovakia, reforming primary and secondary education, public administration, stabilizing the labour market and increasing employment of young people; young families, reducing housing costs (expensive mortgages) are certainly more important topics such as sexual orientation of people, gender equality, "the diversity and rights of sexual minorities", dividing people into decent and indecent, raving about liberal democracy, progressive and non-progressive citizens , Christians and politicians, about "returning Slovakia to all people." Such themes and ideas are very dangerous because they threaten democracy, traditional families, traditional national culture, social peace, traditional human rights and civil liberties. They commemorate the times after World War II, when several uneducated and narrow-minded people wanted to build a career through the Communist Party, popular- democratic regime, later on building the government of the people, workers and peasants, respectively working intelligence.
Róbert Matejovič, editor-in-chief

New Compass for Slovakia

"The revised version of the national investment plan will only come after the approval of Slovakia's long-term vision and development strategy under the 2030 Agenda," says Richard Raši, Deputy Prime Minister of the Slovak Republic for Deputy Prime Minister for Investments and Informatization.

Ozalj "Munjara"- a small hydroelectric power station.

Photo report
Slunjčické Waterfalls

"Little Plitvice" is a jewel of the mill village Rastoke.

Is she president or not?

In Austria the presidential elections had to be repeated, in Slovakia we still do not know the decision of the Constitutional Court,”comments judge Štefan Harabin.

We were interested
Shadow Banking Industry Flourishing

Its core is financialization. The US banking industry has been concentrated in the top five banks.

Risky Whims of Washington

Trump's attack on Huawei. Will Chinese and Russian programmers invent a "new android"?

Bayterek and Its Legends

The popular landmark of Nur- Sultan was also visited by Slovak Cardinal Jozef Tomko.

"Grandmother of Marrakesh"

The ancient Moroccan imperial town of Taroudant attracts with its walls and markets.

Medieval Leather Processing

The 10th century Taroudant tanneries manufactory still produces popular Berber leather products.

Invest Story
“City in town”

BTC City in Ljubljana is an inspiring example for many Central European capitals. Its latest hit is delicious Food Blues.

Opinion Poll
How do you assess the position and influence of Angela Merkel in European politics?

Addictive Psychiatric Drugs

Our mistaken belief in psychology and psychiatry has led us to a state of slavery and dependence on the treatment of their "diagnoses."

She led the sons against the king

The queen of Eleonora Aquitaine suspects that she had poisoned the "Rose of the World", her rival and mistress of King Henry II. Plantagenet.

Crazy about Music

"Everyone is looking for a job just according to a salary and not by whether they are related to it and whether they give it something mentally," notes Peter Hanzely, a composer, pianist and accordionist.

Hardworking and Mature Actress
"I greatly appreciate when a young actor comes to the theater at the time of mammon, wants to work for a ridiculous pay and is also well -behaved," Eva Pavlikova contemplates.

Books and Reviews
Little Man and Little Man and Little Miss
Aforoaféry by Milan Kenda

From Pop Art to Valhalla

Rado Van Ladomerský and his postmodernist transformation.

Medals for Testosterones

The Athletic Federation has been struggling with Caster Semenya, South African, for ten years.

From Female Athletics to Rugby
Zdenka Koubková became a man Zdenek Koubek during the year.

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