Schmögnerová says gas prices will not rise 45%
Finance Minister Brigita Schmögnerová said September 18 that the price of gas will not increase by 45% for the business sector despite a request from monopoly gas distributor SPP.
Schmögnerová added that a 45% increase in the price of natural gas for businesses and a 25% increase for households would mean a rise in this year's average inflation to 13.1%, a drop in household consumption by 3.9% and a drop in the creation of fixed capital of 3.6%.
Following a recent meeting of the ministry and the Association of Slovak Employers, both sides agreed the demand made by the SPP was unacceptable. The Employers Association is pushing for an increase to a maximum of 5%.
At present the Finance Ministry and the employers are working on a gas price adjustment mechanism, which will also be applied after the planned privatisation of SPP next year.
Mid-year public sector deficit at 1.2 billion crowns
Slovakia's public sector deficit was 1.2 billion crowns for the first half of 2000, accounting for 0.3% of the country's GDP. The cabinet's full-year public sector deficit target is 3.6% of GDP. During the first six months of 1999, the state reported a public sector deficit of 9.7 billion crowns (2.4% of GDP).
Truckers back down on protest threat
Hauliers backed down September 18 on their planned protest against the high price of diesel after meeting with the cabinet. Deputy Prime Minister for Economy Ivan Mikloš agreed to all hauliers' demands except the demand for temporary state-regulated prices of hauliers' services, said general secretary of the road haulage association Česmad Slovakia Robert Domček.
As of September 18, the largest fuel retailer in Slovakia, Slovnaft, dropped prices of petrol by 0.3 crowns per litre while the price of diesel fell 0.5 crowns per litre.
GDP grows 1.7% year-on-year in 1H00
In the first half of 2000 Slovak GDP stood at 429.3 billion crowns, a 1.7% increase in real terms and 8.4% rise in current prices in comparison with the same period of 1999, the Slovak Statistics Bureau said September 14.
In the second quarter of this year GDP rose 1.9% in real terms and 8.6% in current prices.
The GDP growth was driven by a 16.4% year-on-year rise in external demand and significantly higher collection of excise tax, value-added tax and taxes associated with foreign trade.
Transpetrol privatisation approved by cabinet
At its regular sitting September 13, cabinet approved, without amendments, the privatisation of the state's stake in crude-oil pipeline operator Transpetrol. The sale of the company is scheduled to take place in the first half of next year. The government wants to privatise a 49% stake in the company, the limit set by the large-scale privatisation law.
Deputy PM Ivan Mikloš has said that he would prefer to see the sale take the form of a sale of a number of shares to a strategic investor and a further tranche sold on stock markets.
Transpetrol reported total revenues of 1.04 billion crowns ($20 million) and expenditures of 0.88 billion crowns for the first half of 2000. Its H1 profit was 160 million crowns.
Compiled by Ed Holt