SciPap, Volume 29, Issue 1 (Special Issue)

Public Policies and Responses of Various Policy Actors during the COVID-19 Pandemic in 2020:

Experience and preliminary lessons from the Czech Republic and Slovakia

Guest editors:

Daniel Klimovský (corresponding guest editor)
Affiliation: Comenius University in Bratislava, Slovakia / University of Pardubice, Czech Republic
Research/teaching focus: public administration, policy design, local government

Juraj Nemec (guest editor)
Affiliation: Masaryk University in Brno, Czech Republic / University of Matej Bel in Banská Bystrica, Slovakia
Research/teaching focus: public finance, public management

Geert Bouckaert (guest editor)
Affiliation: Public Governance Institute, KU Leuven, Belgium
Research/teaching focus: performance management, public sector reform, financial cycles, public management, policy design

Open Access Article SciPap-1320
The COVID-19 Pandemic in the Czech Republic and Slovakia
by Daniel Klimovsky, Juraj Nemec, Geert Bouckaert

Abstract: This special issue was envisaged to cover diverse scholarly contributions of an empirical nature that focus on various questions linked to the COVID-19 crisis in the Czech Republic and Slovakia. The choice of countries was intentional; after all, the Czech Republic and Slovakia both experienced controversial developments during 2020. The COVID-19 pandemic found them unprepared and inexperienced in the field of serious epidemics yet also saw them gain international recognition for the very positive results gained from their initial responses. The second half of 2020 provided a very different story. Both countries were hard hit by the epidemics immediately after the summer, and the situation worsened month by month. These negative developments escalated at the end of 2020 and in early 2021 when the number of new cases rapidly increased and the total number of patients at risk of dying began to exceed the capacities of public hospitals. This summary offers an overview of the research by authors included in this special issue. It compares their findings with the results of others in order to suggest a set of policy implications that are based on empirical analyses. There is also an attempt to estimate several avenues of further multi-disciplinary research focusing on the COVID-19 pandemic and relevant policy responses. Within this context, this special issue is useful for both researchers and policy makers.
Keywords: Czech Republic, Slovakia, Covid-19, Policy Making, Policy Response
JEL classification: H72, H75, E61, H12

Open Access Article SciPap-1249
Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on the Budget of Slovak Local Governments: Much Cry and Little Wool?
by Tomáš Černěnko, Erika Neubauerová, Alena Zubaľová

Abstract: The aim of the paper is to examine the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the budgets of Slovak local governments and to propose measures that would help them better cope with similar shocks in the future (in the economic context). In the first step, we compare tax revenues with their forecast values from 2019. Subsequently, we focus on the dependence of local government revenues on share taxes - personal income tax, which we examine using the Herfindahl-Hirschman Index at the level of individual local governments. We then examine this in the context of size categories of local governments as well as physical space - regions and districts. The results suggest that the COVID-19 impact on local government revenues was much less than expected. However, it revealed the economic limits of the system (structure) of local self-government in Slovakia with a majority of small (and vulnerable) local governments. The way out would be a shift to property taxes, but this is limited due the reluctance of local government representatives to accept a greater degree of responsibility for filling the revenue side of budgets with local taxes and fees.
Keywords: Local Government, Covid-19, Local Taxes And Fees, Tax Income Concentration, Shared Taxes, Herfindahl-Hirschman Index
JEL classification: H30, H71, H24

Open Access Article SciPap-1248
Enablers of Participatory Budgeting in Slovakia During the COVID-19 Pandemic
by Jakub Bardovič, Jozef Gašparík

Abstract: In Slovakia, participatory budgeting represents one of the relatively new instruments of political participation. It has been used since 2011. Currently it is present on both levels of territorial self-government (i.e., local level and regional level). Nevertheless, its implementation into practice is only a gradual one, as the number of local and regional governments using participatory budgeting is limited. Furthermore, both local and regional governments are currently exposed to the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic, so a question arises as to how they managed to deal with the situation and how it affected the implementation of approved participatory budgets. The aim of this paper is to identify how the local governments in Slovakia approached the implementation of participatory budgeting in 2020. With regard to the above-mentioned goal, we focus on the following: the implementation of participatory budgeting before 2020, its continuation in 2020 and, if maintained, its adjustment to the "period of social distancing". The findings show that there is a large group of local and regional governments that have decided to either suspend or cancel the implementation of participatory budgeting. Out of those who opted for its implementation, one group did not need to significantly adapt to the distancing restrictions, another group managed to hold potential meetings before the first restrictions came into force. It was only the latter group that faced the most serious challenge. However, active employment of online tools along with the use of the period of released measures proved crucial for the implementation of participatory budgeting.
Keywords: Slovakia, Covid-19 Pandemic, Local Governments, Participatory Budgeting, Regional Governments
JEL classification: D72, H72

Open Access Article SciPap-1247
Public Policy Responses to the COVID-19 Epidemic – The Case of Family Policy in the Czech Republic
by David Špaček, Robert Jahoda, Ivan Malý

Abstract: Families with dependent children are among the social groups most affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. This paper examines the development of measures applied by the Czech national government for compensating families with children during the COVID-19 crisis. It summarizes the aims of the measures as announced by the government or its ministries. This is supplemented by a summary of the available opinions of experts and other policy stakeholders. Based on this, the paper discusses the adequacy of the adopted measures and points out lessons for the future policymaking in the given area. A relatively high number of measures were identified. This suggests that the government strived for proactive policy to address families as a vulnerable social group. However, a rapid and sometimes unrestrained legislative process seems to have come at the expense of a proper public debate on the need for and impact of the new measures. Given the uncertain time horizon of the epidemic, the apparent lack of consideration regarding the budgetary implications of the measures seems worrying.
Keywords: Czech Republic, Public Policy, Covid-19, Policy-Making, Policy Learning, Family Policy
JEL classification: H

Open Access Article SciPap-1237
One Crisis After Another? How Much Has the COVID-19 Pandemic Impacted Opinions on Welfare-State Priorities
by Dan Ryšavý

Abstract: With rising spending during the COVID-19 pandemic, the state has become involved in decision-making in areas where it has held back for years. In the case of housing the state’s role has declined sharply since 1989, and the expectation that housing is the private responsibility of each individual and his or her family has strengthened over time as has the homeownership norm. Many measures introduced in the acute phase of the pandemic related in some way to housing and housing quality, such as efforts to ensure social distancing, reduce social contacts, etc. State interventions correspond to the normative assumption that, with some exceptions, the state should not get involved in housing. In this study, we examine the effects of three global crises – the financial crisis, housing affordability, and the pandemic – based on how citizens rank the priorities of the welfare state. Special attention is paid to housing support and how young people differ in evaluation of welfare state priorities. This means people who on the one hand largely make up the net payers in the welfare state and those who have been affected most by the current crisis in housing affordability. The changes in public opinion during the pandemic resemble a Mikado game, a game of pick-up sticks, with health care being deemed the highest priority set apart from the barely distinguishable cluster of other welfare state provisions.
Keywords: Housing, Covid-19 Pandemic, Welfare State, Public Opinion, Global Crisis, Young People
JEL classification: H53, I38, Z18

Open Access Article SciPap-1246
How to Lead Self-Government Employees Through the Crisis Empirical Evidence on Impact of Crisis Management Competencies on Team Performance in COVID-19 Pandemic
by Zuzana Skorková, Nadežda Jankelová, Zuzana Joniaková, Jana Blštáková, Katarína Procházková

Abstract: The emergence and spreading of COVID-19 pandemic were surprising and sudden. It caused the need for competent crisis management throughout the public administration to manage the initial stage of the crisis. The purpose of our research is to identify the connection between the competencies of crisis management in self-governments and employee performance, measured at the time of the initial stage of the crisis, by their feeling of satisfaction, safety and establishment of conditions for work. In this research report, we expect these variables to be connected via the sharing of information, teamwork and cognitive diversity of work teams. The research used the mediator model according to Baron and Kenny. Sobel’s test was used to test the mediator effect. Regression analysis was used to verify the hypotheses. The ANOVA variance analysis was used to analyze multiple dependency. The level of significance was 5%. The research sample consisted of 207 managers in self-government organizations operating in Slovakia. The hypothesis on the dependency between the crisis management competencies and team performance during the initial stage of the crisis, facilitated by sharing of information, teamwork and cognitive diversity of crisis management, was confirmed.
Keywords: Teamwork, Slovakia, Covid-19 Pandemic, Self-Governments, Employee-Performance, Crisis Leadership
JEL classification: H11, H12

Open Access Article SciPap-1242
Impact of COVID-19 on Czech Cross-Border Commuters: Legal Perspective
by Lukas Novotny

Abstract: The paper focuses on the impact COVID-19 has on Czech cross-border commuters. Emphasis is placed on the legal and political science perspective and on the comparison of measures against traffic at the state border, against the free movement of persons and specifically against commuter workers (also known as cross-border commuters, or as pendlers in the Czech context), during both previously declared states of emergency in the Czech Republic. From a theoretical perspective, the paper summarizes information and data on cross-border commuters in Europe and the world. The research was performed by means of two qualitative case studies. In general, the legal measures at the Czech-German state border and the conditions of commuter workers during these states of emergency are compared. The research stage also included media searches (during both states of emergency) and content analysis of relevant policy outputs. The results suggest that border closures and related measures and the inability to travel abroad were unconstitutional, which also damaged commuters. And this also resulted in the fact that during the second state of emergency, the commuters were, in effect, not subject to any measures from the Czech side.
Keywords: Germany, Czech Republic, Labour Market, Covid-19, Cross-Border Commuting, Borderland
JEL classification: R58, O52, J6, K31

Open Access Article SciPap-1243
The COVID-19 Pandemic and Budget Shortfalls in the Local Governments in Slovakia
by Andrea Cajkova, Ivana Butoracova Sindleryova, Michal Garaj

Abstract: The study focuses on budget policy implementation at the level of local governments in Slovakia in connection with the COVID-19 pandemic. The research problem focuses on identifying shortfalls in initially planned funds to local government budgets caused by the COVID-19 crisis and the potential ways individual local governments in Slovakia have been able to cover them. The aim of the study is to identify the accepted crisis mechanisms for solving financial shortfalls in local budgets due to the pandemic situation. In the descriptive-analytical study qualitative and quantitative methods were used. Available information on Slovakia indicates several main findings. It has been confirmed the pandemic had negative effects for of all local governments nationwide, regardless of the status of the town or municipality. The municipal fiscal imbalance as a result of the Covid-19 crisis and municipal financial resources are not commensurate and the most important tool that municipalities have the opportunity to use is their reserve funds. Consequently, they have become highly dependent on repayable financial assistance from the state. The authors contribute to the ongoing debate about the current Covid-19 crisis and its consequences for local government finance.
Keywords: Slovakia, Local Governments, Covid-19, Budget Shortfalls, Local Budgets
JEL classification: H72, H83, D73, H12

Open Access Article SciPap-1244
Effect of the COVID-19 Pandemic on the Management of Czech Regions: The Case of the Moravian-Silesian Region
by Irena Szarowská

Abstract: The aim of the article is to examine financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the financial management of Czech regions, especially on the Moravian-Silesian Region. Significant pressures to deepen the imbalance between public revenues and expenditures are reflected at the level of regional budgets, too. First, an empirical evidence is provided focusing on Czech regional budgets before the pandemic. Results suggest a very good financial condition of Czech regions as is regularly confirmed by a fulfilment a set of Ministry of Finance monitoring indicators. Next, the article focuses on the main measures in the financial management of the Moravian-Silesian Region. It was found that the Regional Council implemented 296 budgetary measures in the amount of 41.560.077 thousand CZK as a response on the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. Responsible financial management of the Moravian-Silesian Region was also confirmed by the approval of a favourable loan in December 2020, which will allow to continue investing despite the effect of COVID-19 pandemic.
Keywords: Financial Stability, Region, Covid-19 Pandemic, Crisis, Regional Governance, Financial Management, Budgetary Measure
JEL classification: E62, G01, H12, H7

Open Access Article SciPap-1245
The Response of Cultural Policies in COVID-19 Pandemic in Slovakia
by Zuzana Révészová, Barbora Andor Tóthová, Miriam Šebová

Abstract: Culture can be a powerful driver for development, with broad social, economic and environmental impacts. UNESCO acknowledged the role of culture as an enabler and a driver of sustainable development. There are undisputable effects of culture on community building, social cohesion and empowering people. The economic importance of the cultural sector is growing. Creative and cultural industries can be a source of structural economic development, job creation and innovation. The sector of culture is among the hardest hit by the corona crisis in the whole of Europe. In Slovakia, the sector suffered by austerity measures also before the pandemic. The paper is focused on the impacts of a COVID 19 pandemic on the cultural and creative sector in Slovakia. The paper's objective is to critically analyse the supportive measures for the sector at the national and local level. The theoretical framework is based on the cultural policy and its evolution in Slovakia, which created the baseline for the analysis. The paper summarises local and national bodies' compensations for cultural workers and organisations based on text analysis of available documents. There is also presented a case study of a local cultural centre in Košice. The data for the case study stems from the semi-structured interviews with the managers of the centre about the impacts of a pandemic on their business. The results show that the policies to support firms and workers during the pandemic can be scarcely adapted to the non-traditional business models and employment forms in the cultural sector.
Keywords: Pandemic, Cultural And Creative Industries, Cultural Policy
JEL classification: Z1

Open Access Article SciPap-1241
Impacts of the COVID-19 Pandemic on the Policy of Cultural and Creative Industries of Slovakia
by Katarína Vitálišová, Kamila Borseková, Anna Vaňová, Thomas Helie

Abstract: The main aim of this paper is to identify and evaluate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the cultural and creative industries from the national point of view and to assess the measures applied by the Slovak government in order to eliminate its consequences. The paper is oriented towards a microeconomic and macroeconomic perspective with special attention devoted to the financing of the cultural and creative industries, and the social impacts on the different groups of respondents. Because of the lack of data (even non-existence), this paper presents the results of original primary research conducted among representatives of these industries between November and December 2020 and through online structured interview with the representatives of the Ministry of Culture of the Slovak Republic. The last part of the paper critically evaluates the implemented support measures and their real influence on solving the unprecedented crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic in cultural and creative industries.
Keywords: Culture, Creative Industries, Economic And Social Impacts, Policy
JEL classification: O38

Open Access Article SciPap-1239
Public Expenditures in the Selected Economic Industries: Policy Implications for the Period of the COVID-19 Pandemic Crisis
by Veronika Mitkova, Vladimír Mlynarovič

Abstract: The paper presents the constrained multiplier methodology in semi-input-output analysis and quantifies the effect of the government support to the industries mostly affected by COVID-19 pandemic in Slovakia. In contrary to traditional input-output analysis, the methodology in this paper allows to drop assumptions of the unlimited industries’ supply. The analysis is conducted for 57 economic industries, households, governments, and the foreign using the Global Trade Analysis Project data. The analysis not only identifythat the most stricken industry is the recreation and other services together with transport industry, it also enumerates the effects of the government subsidy. Each Euro of the government support to the Recreation sector increases the Gross Domestic Product by 1.21 Euro, to the Transport industry by 0.93 Euro, while to the automotive industry included to this analysis by 0.54 Euro. The government subsidy should aim the Recreation industry not only for the highest decline of sales during the pandemic, also for the highest number of firms at risk and because of very effective return of the government support which almost triples the total output and generates more than one Euro of the GDP.
Keywords: Public Expenditures, Covid-19, Semi-Input-Output Analysis, Multiplier
JEL classification: C67

Open Access Article SciPap-1255
The Impacts of the COVID-19 Pandemic and Responses from Various Policy Actors in the Czech Republic and Slovakia in 2020: An Introduction to a Special Issue
by Daniel Klimovsky, Juraj Nemec

Abstract: Hundreds of thousands of articles related to COVID-19 have been published worldwide, and many of them have focused on public administration and public policy aspects related to this pandemic. Certainly, the general lack of relevant knowledge and necessary experience for a robust governance strategy and evidence-based policy-making became a global problem in 2020. This is certainly the case for all countries of the Central and Eastern European region, including the Czech Republic and Slovakia. This gap in research perspectives needs to be filled because of the enormous public policy challenges raised due to the COVID-19 pandemic. SciPap is an international academic journal of regional importance, and this special issue aims to contribute some answers to present research shortcomings and the lack of inputs for evidence-based policy-making. More precisely, this special issue is focused on public policies and responses of various actors to the COVID-19 pandemic in the Czech Republic and Slovakia in 2020.
Keywords: Czech Republic, Public Administration, Slovakia, Public Policy, Covid-19, Pandemic
JEL classification: E61, H12, H72, H75