New cabinet given reins of healthy economy

THE OUTGOING cabinet of PM Mikuláš Dzurinda handed over control of Slovakia's relatively healthy economy to new PM Robert Fico this week.

The country has been hailed throughout Europe for economic prosperity that includes GDP growth of more than 6 percent last year and wages that continue to grow faster than prices.

Unemployment remains a serious problem, despite decreasing to below 15 percent in March for the first time since 1999, SME wrote. Another problem is inflation, which hit 4.8 percent in May.

Slovakia's gross national debt was Sk524 billion (€13.85 million) at the end of March, which is around 35 percent of GDP. In 1998, when Dzurinda was elected to his first term, the debt was Sk272 billion. Although half the current level, the proportion of debt to GDP was similar to the current 35 percent.

"The starting position of the future PM is very good. He inherited an adequately indebted economy that has good prospects for the next four years," said Pavol Kárász, an economic analyst with the Slovak Academy of Sciences.

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