April 30, 2020 / 9:50 AM / a month ago

New Slovak government wins confidence vote, readies for COVID-19 impact

BRATISLAVA (Reuters) - The new Slovak government led by Igor Matovic won an initial confidence vote in parliament on Thursday as the country braces for the impact of the new coronavirus on the economy.

Prime Minister Matovic’s cabinet wants to focus on fighting corruption, improving economic competitiveness and restoring people’s trust in the state, despite difficulties caused by the spread of the coronavirus.

“We must be oarsmen who will get us through the most difficult crisis that this country has ever faced,” Matovic said ahead of the vote, referring to the new coronavirus’s spread.

The centre-right coalition took over on March 21 from the centre-left Smer party, which had governed Slovakia for 12 of the past 14 years.

Having a strong majority in the parliament, 93 out of the 141 deputies present supported the government’s programme.

The government’s manifesto said the cabinet would aim to achieve a balanced budget by 2024 if the economy recovers from the crisis caused by COVID-19 but the central bank expects a budget deficit equal to 6.9-10.3% of GDP this year.

Matovic’s politically amorphous Ordinary People (OLANO) party won the February 29 election with a quarter of votes on a wave of discontent with alleged corruption.

OLANO formed a coalition with the eurosceptic Sme Rodina (We Are Family), the economically liberal SaS (Freedom and Solidarity) and conservative-leaning Za Ludi (For the People).

The coalition controls 95 out of parliament’s 150 seats which means it can make changes to the constitution such as reforming the justice system, one of its stated anti-corruption plans.

Reporting by Tomas Mrva and Robert Muller; Editing by Gareth Jones, William Maclean

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