No reason to delay eurozone fund ratification: Slovak PM
(BRATISLAVA) - Slovakia is ready to ratify the eurozone's new rescue fund and push ahead with its own fiscal consolidation, the Slovak premier said after Tuesday talks with the EU president.
"There's no reason to put off the ratification of the permanent fund," newly-elected leftist Prime Minister Rober Fico said after meeting EU President Herman Van Rompuy.
"We have to show we are responsible and can do our homework," added Fico, whose leftist Smer-SD party commands a sound majority of 83 seats in the 150-member parliament.
Slovak parliament is set to discuss the European Stability Mechanism fund at a session starting June 19.
Van Rompuy said he welcomed "the commitment of the Slovak government to swiftly complete the ratification process".
The ESM, created to ease market pressure on indebted eurozone nations like Greece and prevent the contagion across the eurozone, will be launched in July and run in parallel with the EFSF temporary fund for one year.
A relatively poor ex-communist nation of 5.4 million, Slovakia is due to contribute 659.2 million euros (868.5 million dollars) to the ESM over five years.
After it joined the EU in 2004 and the eurozone in 2009, Slovakia grew by 3.3 percent last year.
Its central bank said Tuesday it expected growth of 2.5 percent for this year, which would likely make the country the eurozone's top performer.
Fico added his government was determined to pursue fiscal consolidation with a goal of slashing the public deficit to 4.6 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) in 2012 from 4.8 percent in 2011, and to less than 3.0 percent mandated by the EU in 2013.
"That's a pledge we honour and will achieve," Fico said.
Van Rompuy praised Slovakia for adopting the stance "not because Europe's asking for it but because it's in the interest of the Slovak people."
However, the Fitch rating agency said last month the deficit goal for this year was "unambitious" given the growth prospects.
Before the June 28-29 EU summit, Van Rompuy said the EU would focus on "mobilising EU policies to fully support growth, stepping up our efforts to finance the economy, and strengthening job creation."
One of the steps to achieving this is "increasing the capital of the European Investment Bank if possible (by) up to 10 billion euros," he said.
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