Business Briefs

World Bank approves country assistance scheme
Schmögnerová keeps faith in state railways
Working group proposes use for SLSP proceeds

World Bank approves country assistance scheme

The World Bank February 6 approved a Country Assistance Strategy (CAS) for Slovakia until 2003. The document includes three alternatives of financial assistance, ranging in amount from $35 million to $765 million.
"Based on its performance so far and the future intentions of the Slovak government, the World Bank programme says the most likely value of assistance is the higher version," the text of the CAS programme says. This programme would include an Enterprise and Financial Sector Adjustment Loan of $300 million.
The support for Slovakia is conditioned by criteria including a speedy implementation of structural reforms in the gas industry, oil industry, energy sector, health care financing, and pension system.

Schmögnerová keeps faith in state railways

Finance Minister Brigita Schmögnerová said February 6 that the planned cutting of electricity supplies to Slovak Rail (ŽSR) for non-payment of debts to state-run power producer Slovenské elektrárne (SE) would be inadvisable.
According to Schmögnerová, ministers, foremost among them Economy Minister Ľubomír Harach, should deal with ŽSR 's financial problems to make clearer how much state funds and for what purposes, shall be allocated to ŽSR. The 2001 state budget and proceeds from privatisations were due to cover ŽSR's debts.
On February 5 Harach said if ŽSR does not settle its 1.46 billion crown ($31 million) debt to power distribution companies or SE in three weeks, electricity to some ŽSR tracks might be cut off.
"Every month the debt grows by 150 million crowns. The Economy Ministry cannot allow the distribution companies to go into the red just as they are preparing to be privatised," he said.
VW Slovakia sees turnover of 85 billion crowns
Auto manufacturer VW Slovakia reported a turnover of 85 billion crowns ($1.84 billion) for 2000, up 25% year-on-year. In its production plants in Bratislava and Martin it turned out 180,803 cars, 363,706 gearboxes and 7.94 million components for gearboxes, Jozef Uhrík, member of the board of directors of the company said February 5.
Imports amounted to 73.84 billion crowns and exports totalled 84.82 billion crowns.
VW Slovakia exports accounted for over 16% of the total exports of the Slovak Republic. The main export destinations are Germany, France, Holland, Austria and Japan.

Working group proposes use for SLSP proceeds

The government privatisation agency FNM should use 4.2 billion crowns ($91 million) from the 18 billion crown proceeds for the privatisation of Slovakia's biggest bank Slovenská sporiteľňa (SLSP), concluded in December last year, for redemption of its bonds, a government working group consisting of representatives of various ministries said February 1.
Another 4.2 billion crowns should go for the settlement of other due obligations (repo transactions and obligations towards Konsolidačná banka), and 4.3 billion crowns for covering state-guaranteed coporate debts, it also said.
The proposal, which has been addressed by ministers, will be put to parliament soon and a decisision is due sometime in the next few months.
The working group has suggested that a temporarily frozen 5.68 billion crowns from the funds also be used for redemption of FNM bonds.

Compiled by Ed Holt
from SITA and TASR

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