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Updated December 29th, 2023 at 22:22 IST

Slovak President signs 2024 budget into law, considers later challenge

The fiscal target set by PM Robert Fico marks a gradual approach to cutting the deficit.

Business Desk
The country's PM Robert Fico has already pressed such measures
The country's PM Robert Fico has already pressed such measures | Image:Unsplash
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The Slovakian President has signed the new government's 2024 budget plan, targeting a reduction in the fiscal deficit to 5.97 per cent of gross domestic product. Some observers had wondered whether President Zuzana Caputova might veto the bill after a state watchdog said the budget exceeded spending limits. The fiscal target set by leftist Prime Minister Robert Fico's government, which took office in October, marks a gradual approach to cutting the deficit from an estimated 6.52% of GDP in 2023, which would be the highest fiscal gap in the euro zone for this year.

The new government has blamed the previous administration for leaving state coffers empty, but has itself approved extra payments for pensioners this year and going forward. Slovak lawmakers had approved the 2024 budget on Dec. 21 before recessing until January.

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Opposition parties had abstained from the vote after their attempts to obstruct it were ended in a procedural vote brought by the parliament speaker. President Caputova's office said on Friday she had signed the budget bill along with government consolidation measures, although she was considering submitting the budget to the Constitutional Court for what she called legal and procedural reasons.

In her statement, Caputova cited a state watchdog opinion questioning whether the approved budget followed rules, and she said a court opinion could also be important for this government and future ones on setting the right path to sustainable public finances. Slovakia's deficit has ballooned amid spending to ease the pain of soaring energy prices and to pay higher pensions and other benefits.

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Fitch rating agency cut Slovakia's debt rating by one notch to 'A-' with a stable outlook this month, citing deteriorating public finances and an unclear consolidation path.

(With Reuters inputs) 

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Published December 29th, 2023 at 22:22 IST

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