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ECONOMIC BRIEFS

New consumer protection bill passed

Members of parliament approved a series of economic bills on November 2, including a consumer protection bill, a defective products measure and a report on the activities of small and medium enterprises.

The bill on responsibility for damages caused by defective products brings another of Slovakia's legal norm into line with the guidelines of the European Union, and goes hand-in-hand with a law on technical requirements and market access adopted in September. Collectively, these laws significantly liberalize imports of foreign products by mutually recognizing quality certificates issued in Slovakia and the EU; they also increase the responsibility of manufacturers for their products.

The package also includes a bill on consumer protection that defines fair business practices for the first time.

Deputies approved a report on the state of small- and medium-sized business in 1998, which found that the number of people who were self-employed as tradesmen - 263,700 - was up 7.9% from last year. The total output of small- and medium-sized companies swelled 5% to 611.3 billion Slovak crowns.

Parliament also passed a cabinet-tailored revision to the Foreign Trade Support Fund, making the contributions of Slovak firms to the fund voluntary rather than compulsory.

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