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NEWS FROM THE OMRI DAILY DIGEST

Economic update

A Statistical Office report published in TASR on October 3 showed that inflation rose 0.5 percent in August, reaching an annual rate of 9.8 percent. The unemployment rate was 13.3 percent at the end of August, and the trade surplus grew to 1.4 billion koruny. The state budget deficit was 943 million Sk. In other news, according to Sme on October 3, 31,743 of the approximately 3.5 million Slovaks who registered to participate in the second wave of coupon privatization asked for a refund by the September 30 deadline. The coupon program, which had been organized by the previous government, was cancelled by the parliament in September. The new program involves bonds that will be redeemable in five years. Meanwhile, Slovak arms producers on 4 October held their first meeting under the new entity Holding, which was established to help rejuvenate the industry. Former Finance Minister Július Tóth was elected president of Holding's board of directors, TASR reported. >Sharon Fisher

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