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ECONOMIC BRIEFS

Cabinet fails to approve concept for economic development

The cabinet failed to approve a long-awaited plan for Slovakia's medium-term economic development at its regular session on July 14 because of objections raised by trade unions. The Social Partnership Council (a joint body which unites government, labour and business representatives) will now discuss the document again, and the cabinet should adopt the final version at its session on August 11.

Deputy Prime Minister for Economy Ivan Mikloš, who submitted the plan, said it sets a course for Slovakia's economic and social development with emphasis on macroeconomic stabilization and the creation of conditions for sustainable economic growth.

The plan assumes two phases of medium-term economic development. The first will be a period of stabilization until the year 2000, followed by a period of accelerated economic growth. In 2004 and 2005, Slovakia should exceed the 50% average economic level of EU countries, which is a condition for Slovakia's integration into the European Union.

During the stabilization period in 1999 and 2000, the cabinet expects GDP growth of 0.7 to 2%. In 2001 this figure should rise to 3-4% annually, and in later years GDP should grow at 4-5%.

The government's lack of a mid-term vision for economic and social development has been strongly criticized by trade unions and the political opposition, as well as some ruling coalition members. Responsibility for this failure has been pinned on Economy Minister Ľudovít Černák. Parliament, when discussing the 1999 state budget, required the cabinet to submit this material by June 30.

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