ECONOMIC BRIEFS

Economy Minister wants $500 million FDI in '99

Economy Minister Ľudovít Černák said on June 11 he wanted Slovakia to attract $500 million in foreign direct investment in 1999 and twice that amount in 2000. "My personal (FDI) target is $500 million before the end of 1999 and twice that next year," Černák told journalists.

In 1998, according to Economy Ministry data, Slovakia attracted some $170 million in FDI. In per capita terms, Slovakia's FDI inflows in the last several years represented a fraction of those in the neighbouring Czech Republic or Hungary.

The new government of Prime Minister Mikuláš Dzurinda, which came to power after a general election last September, presents FDI as one of the pillars of economic recovery. Earlier this year, the government passed a plan to attract investors using tax incentives, re-training schemes and other tools. Government members held roadshows in western-European countries, touting a turnaround economy with pro-European Union policies.

Černák said several concrete projects were already under discussion, but refused to disclose specific details. Earlier on June 11, the government said in a statement it expected to sign a $90 million investment deal soon to set up a production facility with electronic components producer Molex Incorporated.

Recently, the government approved a law amendment that would, if passed by parliament, lift the ban on privatisation of natural monopolies and so-called strategic enterprises, including telecom, gas distribution and electricity.

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