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Slovakian report
by Euro Reporter
2013-09-03 11:35:30
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Government grants assistance to companies across Slovakia

The Government okayed state assistance for a number of manufacturing firms at its August 28 session. As proposed by the Economy Ministry, the US company Johnson Controls Innotec Technologies will receive investment assistance worth €4.1 million towards expanding its production site in Lučenec, the TASR newswire wrote. One part of the package is expected to come in the form of tax relief (€3.86 million) and the other via a subsidy for long-term tangible property (€240,000). The assistance is due to be awarded in exchange for the company's plan to invest €8.2 million in a new plant for producing metal components for seat head-rests in passenger vehicles in the Lučenec area between 2012 and 2015, a move that is set to create 125 new jobs. Another company to be granted assistance of €3.6 million in the form of tax relief is car-components manufacturer Miba Sinter Slovakia, a member of the international Miba Sinter Group based in Laarkirchen, Austria. The company is planning to build two facilities for developing and producing cogwheels to be used in the car industry at its plant in Dolný Kubin.

“The investment project envisages the creation of 120 new jobs by the end of 2014. The company currently employs 628 people, and this number could climb to 748,” reads the Economy Ministry-sponsored proposal approved by the government. The total “justified investment” for the project is at least €13.65 million, the company stated.

The third recipient is Banská Bystrica-based company Gevorkyan, currently employing 79 people, which is set to receive an investment stimulus of €1.51 million in the form of tax relief. The assistance will help the company expand its powder metallurgy production plant, which mainly supplies the automotive, oil and cosmetics industries. According to the ministry, the company is set to invest €7.57 million between 2013 and 2016 and create 44 new jobs. The Fiľakovo-based company Dometic Slovakia is expected to expand its production of cooking hobs, ovens, portable grills, marquees and control devices for air-conditioning systems for €5.46 million, creating 326 new jobs by the end of 2016. The government approved assistance worth €340,000 as a subsidy for long-term tangible property and another €2.664 million in the form of tax relief.


Slovakia 'anti-Roma' wall in Kosice riles EU

The authorities in the Slovak city of Kosice say they are taking legal action to remove a wall separating Roma (Gypsy) families from majority Slovaks. The pledge came in a letter from Kosice mayor Richard Rasi to EU Commissioner for Culture Androulla Vassiliou. He called the wall illegal. He was responding to a complaint from Ms Vassiliou, who said the wall violated the EU's stand against racism. Walls blocking off Roma areas have raised tensions in Slovakia before.

Mr Rasi's letter said the wall in Kosice-Zapad district had been put up this summer on the initiative of the district mayor, Rudolf Bauer, "illegally, without the necessary permits, and without informing the city of Kosice".  "Appropriate legal actions against the city part in question shall follow," he promised. Ms Vassiliou had asked him "as a matter of urgency... to remedy this unfortunate situation". Kosice, in the east, is Slovakia's second city, after the capital Bratislava. This year the EU gave Kosice the title "European Capital of Culture".

Pictures of the wall appeared on the Slovak news website Sme.sk, showing that someone had painted the word "Prepacte" ("sorry") on it in big letters.  The CTK news agency reports that the Kosice wall is the eighth such project to arise in eastern Slovakia since 2009, and the fourteenth in Slovakia as a whole. The 2011 census put the Roma population of Slovakia at about 106,000, out of a total population of 5.5 million. But the figure for Roma is disputed, with some estimates putting their numbers higher, at more than 5% of the total population. Roma communities in Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Serbia have long complained of discrimination. Many Roma live in desperate poverty and suffer higher rates of sickness and illiteracy than the national average.


Slovakia launches receipt-lottery to fight tax evasion

Every store receipt in Slovakia will double as a lottery ticket as of September, the finance ministry said, in a bid to fight tax evasion. Residents will be able to register the serial number of each receipt in a national lottery system from which 10 winners will be drawn twice a month. The top prize will be 10,000 Euros ($A 14,900), but lucky shoppers will also be able to score smaller sums of cash or a new car.

"We want to give people an incentive to request a receipt every time they make a purchase and help prevent tax evasion," Finance Minister Peter Kazimir told reporters. "Many of us rarely request a receipt but not everyone knows how much money is lost in the grey economy because of that." Slovakia has two value-added-tax rates: a 10-per cent rate applies to books, medication and medical items such as contact lenses, while a 20-per cent rate applies to everything else. 

When vendors sell their goods without a receipt, they essentially avoid paying the VAT. Slovakia loses around 150 million Euros in revenue each year due to the grey economy, according to the ministry. Tax evasion is a constant worry for the government - especially as it struggles to cut its budget deficit gap to under the EU ceiling of three percent of gross domestic product. Georgia launched a receipt lottery last year but cancelled it after seven months due to the low impact on national revenue.  Taiwan and Malta also have similar lotteries.

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