ECONOMIC BRIEFS

Finance Ministry reports positive first quarter budget performance

The state budget of the Slovak Republic ended the first quarter with a surplus of 1.03 billion crowns. Finance Ministry officials called the figure positive and added that the surplus could have been close to 4 billion crowns had Slovakia's import surcharges not been cancelled.

According to Finance Ministry spokesman Peter Švec, three months into 1999, budgetary revenues were 40.89 billion crowns (down 3.05 billion crowns year-on-year), while expenditures were 39.86 billion crowns (down 2.97 billion crowns year-on-year).

While positive, the surplus is still 73.6 million crowns lower than that of the first quarter of the previous year, he added. The decrease is in part due to a three-month shortfall in budgetary revenues due to the cancellation of import surcharges, which is estimated to have cost the state 2.94 billion crowns.

The Ministry reported mixed results in terms of the effectiveness of its tax collection programs. Compared to the first quarter of last year, VAT collection improved by 110.5 million crowns, bringing the total figure to 11.34 billion crowns. Collection of corporate income tax, however, was less effective. While corporate entities paid 8.08 billion crowns in income taxes in the first quarter of 1998, only 7.3 billion crowns were collected this year.

Collection of individual income tax posted a slight increase of 25.3 million crowns. But a significant shortfall was recorded in excise tax collection, which brought in 4.6 billion crowns, down 497.6 million crowns from last year. Overall, the collection of tax fees was 16.7% lower than in the first quarter of the last year.

Concerning expenditures, current state expenditures were down 1.6 billion crowns to 37.45 billion crowns, or 93.1% of the last year's figure. Capital expenditures dwindled from 3.78 billion crowns to 2.42 billion crowns this year.

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