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ECONOMIC BRIEFS

Finance Ministry predicts 2000 GDP growth of 2.5%

The Finance Ministry presented a working draft of the state budget for the year 2000 on September 23, according to which GDP growth should hit 2.5% and the country's fiscal deficit should fall below 3% of GDP.

The revised GDP figures were inspired by surprisingly strong GDP growth - 2.8% - during the first half of this year. Finance Minister Brigita Schmögnerová said she expects gross domestic product in absolute figures to be 930 billion crowns next year.

The state budget deficit is projected at 18 billion crowns on expenditures of 211 billion and revenues totaling 193 billion. This latter figure does not include contributions from the National Bank of Slovakia (NBS) or funds from the European Union The total deficit of the public sector is expected to represent 3% of GDP.

Schmögnerová said that her ministry has approved only two billion crowns in funding out of the 55 billion requested for next year by Slovakia's various ministries. The Finance Ministry has also not accepted the figure of 77 billion crowns in state loan guarantees. State guarantees represent one of the biggest risks for meeting state budget targets in the year 2000.

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