IN SHORTS

2003 budget introduced, then doubted

ACCORDING to top government economic officials, Slovakia's budget deficit will not exceed 3.5 per cent of GDP for 2003.

At a meeting of government economic officials on June 10, Finance Ministry representatives said that they expected next year's budget income to reach Sk224.1 billion, a year-on-year increase of Sk4.2 billion, while budget expenditures should not exceed Sk265 billion. The deficit will be Sk35-40 billion.

However, the Finance Ministry also warned that the deficit target could be exceeded by as much as Sk22 billion because of overspending on civil service wage increases (Sk12 billion more than in 2002) and social support payments (Sk7.6 billion increase).

The cabinet took the information under advisement at its June 12 meeting.

The budget draft forecasts GDP of Sk1.142 trillion in current prices, with growth from 2002 expected at 4.1 per cent. Inflation is pegged at 7 per cent and unemployment at 18.5 per cent.

Deputy Prime Minister for Economy Ivan Mikloš said that the cabinet should approve the 2003 budget outline by July 15 and that the budget should be wrapped up before October 15.

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