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Financial Times about Mikloš: A radical reformer who is putting his views into practice

Last update: 27.01.2006 06:00

Europe can respond effectively to globalisation only by embracing far-reaching economic reforms, including liberalising labour markets, opening services to cross-border competition and rationalising social welfare, says Ivan Miklos, Slovakia’s reformist finance minister.

“Of course for some social groups it will be tough. But it will be better for many others. The real question is: what is the alternative to reform? Who will stop globalisation? Who will stop the global pressure? The later they (governments) act the higher will be the costs,” says the 45-year-old economist.

As the finance minister of a small country on the eastern borders of the European Union, Mr Miklos is no heavyweight in EU affairs. But his remarks demand attention because his track record as an economic reformer is among Europe’s best.

For eight years he has presided over a transformation which has seen Slovakia recover from the authoritarian rule of Vladimir Meciar, the former prime minister, and establish itself as a top location for foreign direct investment, especially in the auto industry.

Mr Miklos, working closely with prime minister Mikulas Dzurinda, has stabilised the public finances, deregulated the economy, privatised most state-owned companies and launched reforms in taxation, administration, healthcare and welfare benefits. His radical programme for flat rate taxes has prompted other states to follow suit – and generated arguments far away from Bratislava. - 26.01.2006