March 18, 2020 / 11:32 AM / 11 days ago

Incoming Slovak PM appoints Heger, Sulik to take economy posts in new government

BRATISLAVA (Reuters) - The economic policy of the new Slovak government will be led by free-marketeer Richard Sulik as deputy prime minister and OLANO party member of parliament Eduard Heger as finance minister, the incoming government chief said on Wednesday.

FILE PHOTO: Igor Matovic, leader of The Ordinary People and Independent Personalities (OLaNO), waits in front of the Bratislava Castle for a televised interview after the country's parliamentary election in Bratislava, Slovakia March 1, 2020. REUTERS/David W Cerny -/File Photo

The euro zone country’s four-party government will be appointed on Saturday, replacing a center-left administration led by the Smer party which was in power for 12 out of the past 14 years.

“We are entering an extraordinarily difficult period but if we remain responsible and tenacious, we will make it,” prime minister designate Igor Matovic said, referring to the spread of the coronavirus.

Slovakia had 105 cases of the disease as of Wednesday. It imposed a ban on international passenger travel, closed schools and most shops, and large factories including the car industry have also announced closures.

Sulik, head of the Freedom and Solidarity party and a former parliamentary speaker, will also become economy minister.

Sulik, 52, has been a proponent of budget responsibility. His party triggered the fall of a previous center-right cabinet in 2011 by opposing the bailout of Greece.

“My three priorities will be reduction of the impact of the coronavirus on the economy, improvement of the business environment and accelerated construction of apartments for rent,” he said on Wednesday.

The nominated finance minister Eduard Heger, 43, is a former manager of several private companies and also worked as a consultant for the Ministry of Defence.

Current ambassador to the United States and former permanent representative to the EU Ivan Korcok, 55, will become foreign minister.

The new government will comprise OLANO, a politically amorphous, pro-EU and pro-NATO party, and three smaller parties - Sme Rodina (We are Family), a socially conservative and eurosceptic party; SaS (Freedom and Solidarity), an economically liberal party; and Za Ludi (For the People), a mildly conservative party led by former president Andrej Kiska. [L8N2B95U3]

Reporting by Tomas Mrva; Writing by Jan Lopatka, Editing by William Maclean

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