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Slovak Railways to become JSC

A new bill on Slovak Railways (ŽSR), which would allow the transformation of the currently state-run company into a joint stock company, should be discussed by cabinet before the end of the year. Michal Lazar, ŽSR Director, said that the company's privatization has long been pointlessly postponed and that he hopes the change in the company's statutes will enable it to solve its most pressing problems, namely growing debt, obsolescence of railway cars, and continuing decline in output. The state doesn't cover the company's losses from personal transport anymore, so ŽSR has to make up for it from freight transport, whose output decline exceeded 50 percent over the past year. This year ŽSR has already lost 4 billion Sk and total debts have doubled since the beginning of 1997. Lazar said that ŽSR should make an effort to clarify the financial flows within the company, increase bargain prices for freight transport and restructure the loan burden in favor of long-term loans and leasing financing.

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