Finance Minister Brigita Schmögnerová told delegates to a Bratislava international investment conference on November 23 that she was convinced her country would become a member of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) during the first half of next year.
Schmögnerová also said that the government was on the verge of launching a restructuring programme for the nation's banking sector, a move she linked to Slovakia's attracting increased direct foreign investment (FDI) in 1999. She predicted that restructuring at Všeobecná Úverová Banka (VÚB), the country's second largest bank, would take one year, while negotiations on a foreign capital entry to the troubled Investičná a Rozvojová Banka (IRB) are about to begin.
Over the first six months of this year, Slovakia recorded 7.568 billion Sk ($210 million) in FDI, a solid increase over 1997's total of 5.117 billion Sk, which had ranked the country a lackluster 11th out of 16 countries in central and eastern Europe. Conference delegates were told that the most decisive factors behind Slovakia's low totals were political and economic instability.
In terms of total FDI between 1989 and 1997 in central and eastern Europe, including the Commonwealth of Independent States (the former Soviet Union), Hungary topped the list with 25.2%, followed by Poland (13.8%) and the Czech Republic (12.2%). Slovakia attracted a paltry 1.5% of the total.
In 1997, FDI represented 0.8% of GDP in Slovakia, 4.7% in Hungary and 2.3% in Poland. The biggest foreign investor in Slovakia is Germany, followed by Austria and Great Britain. Most FDI money went to the Bratislava region (56.9%) while 37.5% was claimed by the Trenčín, Trnava and Nitra regions.