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ECONOMIC BRIEFS

Central bank says no policy change will stem from new GDP data

The Slovak central bank (NBS) said on March 19 that there would be no change to monetary policy following the release of fourth quarter gross domestic product figures showing a sharp downturn in growth.

"There was a central bank board meeting today but no change to the execution of monetary policy in connection with the growth of GDP in the last quarter was discussed and the central bank will not change its monetary programme in connection with this development," central bank spokesman Jan Onda said.

The Slovak Statistical Bureau had said earlier in the day that real fourth quarter gross domestic product growth had fallen to a year-on-year rate of 0.5% from 5.1% in the third quarter. The figures bring Slovakia's overall 1998 economic growth to 4.4% from 6.5% in 1997.

The government's aim of lowering the budget deficit to two percent of gross domestic product from over five percent is based on economic growth of no less than three percent in 1999.

The central bank's 1999 monetary programme targets net inflation at 5-7%, M2 money supply growth at 6.0% and calls for currency stability. It envisages interbank interest rates at around the same level or eventually falling.

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