ECONOMIC BRIEFS

Privatisation Minister slams former privatisation methods

One of the documents the cabinet dealt with at its session on March 17 was an analysis of the privatisation process in Slovakia over the past nine years, presented by Privatization Minister Mária Machová.

Machová told journalists that "Slovakia did not manage the privatisation process properly. None of the methods of privatisation used were ideal." She added that privatisation had not increased the greater efficiency of the country's economy either.

In small-scale privatisation, 9,500 small companies and stores with a book value of 12.3 billion Slovak crowns ($307 million) were sold in public auctions. This property was sold for nearly 14 billion crowns. This 'small-scale privatisation' had negative aspects such as unsettled ownership relations and auctions for leases of commercial premises.

The first wave of 'large-scale privatisation' embraced the property of 678 state-owned companies with a total value of 169 billion crowns ($4.2 billion). The main feature of this wave was the use of non-standard methods, especially coupon privatisation.

In the second wave of large-scale privatisation, 610 state-owned companies valued at 136.8 billion crowns were privatised. Machová said that during this wave, the concept of "public interest" was not properly defined within the process of privatisation. Moreover, the privatisation process slipped out from under public and media supervision.

The transfer of the power to issue privatisation decisions from the cabinet to the FNM state privatisation agency made the process even less transparent and meant that interested buyers were given unequal access to state property. The cabinet was also able to dispose of its constitutional responsibility to oversee crucial decisions on economic and social policy, Machová added.

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