ECONOMIC BRIEFS

Government projects for bank restructuring further delayed

The long-awaited plan for restructuring the Slovak banking sector should now be ready by June 13, Finance Minister Brigita Schmögnerová announced at a news conference on June 7. A proposal for financing the consolidation of ailing IRB (Investičná a Rozvojová Banka) should be part of this project, she said.

The Finance Ministry in cooperation with the NBS has been asked to devise a plan for restructuring state banks, but although the government expects to sell the IRB by October 1999, no concrete steps towards consolidating the bank have been taken thus far.

Deputy Finance Minister Viliam Vaškovič told a press conference on June 3 that he expected the bank restructuring plan to hit parliament in September this year, and said the ministry had been working on the project for six months with experts from the World Bank. "We have not missed the train, and World Bank experts think the same," he said.

The cabinet first expected that the crucial "Proposal on Securing the Necessary Finances to Consolidate the IRB" would be submitted for inspection by late January 1999. Ministers later agreed on a new date, May 15, but this deadline was missed as well, as was a further one set for May 30.

The privatization of four banks in which the state has a majority stake should be completed by the end of the year 2000. The state intends to keep a majority only in Slovenská Sporiteľňa (SLSP). Všeobecná Úverová Banka (VÚB), the IRB, and Banka Slovakia should have new foreign owners, but must first undergo a recovery process.

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