Economics and business roundup

September 28 - According to a regular report on the competitiveness of global economies published by the World Economic Forum, Slovakia's economy improved in 2005. Out of 117 countries evaluated, Slovakia ranked 41st, up two places since 2004.

September 28 - According to a regular report on the competitiveness of global economies published by the World Economic Forum, Slovakia's economy improved in 2005. Out of 117 countries evaluated, Slovakia ranked 41st, up two places since 2004.

September 28 - The Finance Ministry levies a fine of Sk1.3 billion (€33 million) against oil refinery Slovnaft for what it calls a breach of price discipline in the previous years. Slovnaft plans to take the case to the Supreme Court while the owner, Hungarian MOL, signals it will seek international arbitration on the issue.

September 23 - Slovak MPs approve a revision to the law on foreign direct investments exceeding Sk1 billion (€30 million). Based on the revision, investments going into research and development projects as well as into production will be considered significant investments.

September 23 - Finance Minister and acting Economy Minister Ivan Mikloš presses charges against ex-Economy Minister Pavol Rusko for abuse of power regarding his attempts to repurchase a 49-percent stake in Transpetrol from Russian company Yukos. Mikloš said that although the Economy Ministry officially had halted negotiations with Yukos in February, letters with the Economy Ministry's letterhead and the signature of ex-minister Pavol Rusko continued to be sent to the Russian company. Rusko insisted that he had to act discreetly because "we realized that our efforts to buy back the shares from Yukos are being thwarted by competition, such as Hungarian MOL".

September 22 - The central bank says that Slovakia's draft 2006 budget is not ambitious enough in terms of the projected public budget deficit. The plan is a 2.9 percent deficit, which is the same level as in 2004, despite the country expecting faster economic growth and other positive developments.

September 21 - Simeon Djankov, a co-author of Doing Business, a regular World Bank study, told a press conference that the reforms designed to simplify the business environment in Slovakia could result in a significant drop in the nation's unemployment rate in two years. According to Djankov, the positive impact of the reforms is already visible but some years will have to pass until people can really appreciate the impact.

September 19 - Slovakia's oil refinery Slovnaft reported a 13 percent decrease year-on-year in the volume of emitted pollutants in 2004 despite increasing output. The biggest drop, 20 percent to under 10,000 tonnes, was reported in emitted sulfur dioxide. Further reduction of pollutants is expected from the launching of a new production unit for the production of ultra-low-sulfur diesel worth Sk3.2 billion (€80 million).

September 15 - Finance Minister Ivan Mikloš introduces a draft of new rules for the provision of investment incentives to investors. According to the plan, the state will primarily provide incentives to investors who contribute to regions with high unemployment with higher added value projects. The plan also foresees a cabinet decision on the provision of state assistance within 110 days of project submission.

September 15 - At a meeting with acting Economy Minister Ivan Mikloš, Eui-Sun Chung, the President of KIA Motors Corporation said that KIA plans to launch production at its new plant near Žilina earlier than originally planned. While the original plan called for full production to start in December 2006, KIA moved this to October 2006.

September 14- The Slovak cabinet decided that landowners selling property to carmaker KIA should receive a full Sk350 (€8.16) per square metre rather than the Sk140 (€3.63) that they were offered originally.

September 12 - Transport Minister Pavol Prokopovič announces that the highway connecting Bratislava with Žilina will not be completed by November 2006 as Slovakia promised to KIA Motors. The problematic stretch, Sverepec-Považská Bystrica-Vrtižer, in the western Trenčín region, will be completed in the summer of 2007, the minister said. He added that the Považská Bystrica town council caused the delay by belatedly issuing a permit in May of this year - one year later than originally planned.

September 3 - The official opening ceremony for the Apollo Bridge is held in Bratislava with thousands of people attending the event. The bridge, financed from the state and municipal budgets as well as a loan from the European Investment Bank, cost Sk4.3 billion (€110 million). It is the capital's fifth bridge across the Danube River.

September 2 - The Economy Ministry announces that Slovakia is still in talks with Hankook Tire on its €500 million investment in a new tyre production plant in the southern Slovak town of Levice. However, Slovakia has cut the offered incentives to Hankook by 70 percent, compared to what the former Economy Minister Pavol Rusko was proposing.

September 2 - Acting Economy Minister Ivan Mikloš says he is satisfied with the investment plan for Slovenské elektrárne prepared by Italian Enel. The strategic plan does not contain any requirements for public finances, said Mikloš. The only problematic point may be a plan not to pay dividends until 2012. Mikloš thinks that the unpaid dividends should go into other company investments.

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