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OECD reps to visit and discuss report

Less than two months after the global economic club the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), issued its first comprehensive report on Slovakia's economic development, many of the Paris-based institution's heavyweights will be coming to town to discuss the document.
"It is quite usual that we [OECD] arrange such a seminar shortly after the release of such a significant report," Oliviera Martins, the principal editor of the OECD survey on Slovakia, told The Slovak Spectator. "The conference's purpose will be to stimulate internal debate and discussions about the economic situation and progress in structural reforms in Slovakia on the basis of the analysis provided in the survey."
At stake is Slovakia's entry into this exclusive club of developed nations. An informed source in Slovakia familiar with OECD activities says the organization decided that the four central European countries should be admitted in alphabetical order in about six-month intervals.

Less than two months after the global economic club the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), issued its first comprehensive report on Slovakia's economic development, many of the Paris-based institution's heavyweights will be coming to town to discuss the document.

"It is quite usual that we [OECD] arrange such a seminar shortly after the release of such a significant report," Oliviera Martins, the principal editor of the OECD survey on Slovakia, told The Slovak Spectator. "The conference's purpose will be to stimulate internal debate and discussions about the economic situation and progress in structural reforms in Slovakia on the basis of the analysis provided in the survey."

At stake is Slovakia's entry into this exclusive club of developed nations. An informed source in Slovakia familiar with OECD activities says the organization decided that the four central European countries should be admitted in alphabetical order in about six-month intervals. Hungary and the Czech Republic gained admission this year, and Poland is scheduled to enter early next year, which would peg Slovakia's entrance for mid-1997.

Among those OECD officials expected to attend the November 25 conference at the Hotel Forum in Bratislava, jointly organized with the Slovak Ministry of Economy, are Martins; Stephen Potter, countries studies branch director at the OECD economics department; Silvana Malle, head of the OECD's central and eastern European countries division; and Paris-based economist Maitland MacFarlan, who worked on the report.

Officials from neither the OECD nor the Ministry of Economy would discuss the specifics of the agenda. But the report, which paints a generally favorable picture of Slovakia's development since independence in 1993, spells out some concerns.

"Slovakia needs to proceed further and with determination in ensuring market-based re-allocation of economic resources to emerging private sector activities," the report states in its conclusions. "Privatization is crucial to stimulate labor and capital mobility. However, continuing restraint on public spending will also be important to limit the extent to which the state crowds out private sector activities, and to force the government to assess carefully its medium-term priorities."

The government's method of privatizing state-owned companies by direct sales received special emphasis in the report. "In general, there is a need for greater transparency and accountability... so that the selection criteria and decisions can be fully assessed," the report states.

Martins would not comment on developments in the two months since the report's release, such as the new amendment to the Securities Act withdrawing owners' obligation to register shares in a newly-privatized company and which has been roundly criticized for masking transparency in the privatization process, saying any comments in advance of the conference could prejudice the outcome of the talks.

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