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Budget close to passing

As The Slovak Spectator went to print December 13 members of parliament (MPs) were expected to approve a 2002 state budget with a deficit of Sk37 billion ($755 million), 3.6% of GDP.

Its revenues are planned at Sk219 billion and expenditures at Sk256 billion.

Many economists called the budget expansionary, but some MPs attacked it as restrictive. A number also made proposals which if accepted would add an extra Sk1 billion to expenditures.

However, when discussions on the budget ended December 11, Finance Minister Brigita Schmögnerová rejected any suggestion that her proposed budget was restrictive.

"A budget which calculates a deficit cannot be restrictive," she said.

She added that she was unsurprised by some MPs' demands to raise expenditures, but had expected them to do so sooner.

Coalition parties had before the voting pledged to back the proposal, but members of Schmögnerová's own Democratic Left Party (SDĽ) said they were unhappy with the amount of money allocated to agriculture and education.

It was unclear before the vote if a number of SDĽ MPs would vote with the opposition HZDS party against the budget. The HZDS said it would not support the proposal because it lacks any impulse for the development of the economy.

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