Final Word from Wednesday, August 7, 2002

Finance Minister Bohuslav Sobotka has said repeatedly since taking office that reform of public finances is a top priority. He's creating an advisory team to help come up with ideas, and ex-Finance Minister Pavel Mertlík will be included. Mertlík has publicly criticized the proposed government agenda for being light on macroeconomic parameters. He's skeptical about quick public-finance reform and said last week that the EU will play a key role. Many legislative changes of the past two years wouldn't have happened, he said, without pressure from the EU. Likewise, Mertlík expects real progress on public-finance reform to come only after the CR joins the EU. As it stands, he said, the finance ministry is at the mercy of the big-spending labor ministry; after accession, though, the finance ministry will have the weight of the EU behind it.


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