Former Slovak Minister of Finance Brigita Schmognerova, who resigned last Wednesday, with Prime Minister Mikulas Dzurinda who originally refused to sack her. PHOTO – TASR
BRATISLAVA – Slovak Prime Minister Mikulas Dzurinda last Thursday approved a move by coalition partner SDL to replace the Finance Minister with central bank economist Frantisek Hajnovic, ending a week-long political row. His decision came after the reformist Brigita Schmognerova agreed on Wednesday to resign next week. This move, and the agreement on her successor, has averted a crisis in the ruling coalition sparked when Dzurinda initially refused to sack Schmognerova. The leftist SDL party had threatened to leave the government, raising fears that a collapse of the fragile coalition could undermine key reforms needed to keep Slovakia on track in its drive to join the European Union by 2004. But on Thursday Dzurinda said he had accepted SDL‘s nomination of Hajnovic, a little-known, bookish economist who has served as the head of the central bank‘s economic research department. Schmognerova, praised abroad for her tough stance on cutting state spending, has long been criticised by her reformed communist SDL party, which says her policies are too far to the right.
Hajnovic said earlier this week he would try to achieve responsible fiscal policies supporting stability.
He also said he considered a crucial task to be unfinished reforms necessary for EU entry, mainly in the area of taxes and the administration of state finances. Reuters