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Slim chance deficit below 3 percent

THE FINANCE Ministry might enter the dividends from the state’s shares in the Slovenský Plynárnenský Priemysel (SPP) gas utility into the books for 2013, contrary to the state budget for 2014, which factors the dividends into this year. This will lower the government’s chances of keeping the deficit under 3 percent, which is one of its main priorities, the Sme daily wrote on February 3.

THE FINANCE Ministry might enter the dividends from the state’s shares in the Slovenský Plynárnenský Priemysel (SPP) gas utility into the books for 2013, contrary to the state budget for 2014, which factors the dividends into this year. This will lower the government’s chances of keeping the deficit under 3 percent, which is one of its main priorities, the Sme daily wrote on February 3.

The government originally planned to enter the dividends in the 2014 books, because due to the poor drawing of EU funds in 2013, the budgetary costs were considerably lower than expected. After the state budget was passed in December, however, people from the Eurostat statistics office of the EU visited Slovakia and questioned several measures introduced by the Slovak government. That resulted in the threat of the final deficit exceeding 3 percent.

“We have different opinions on different things, and we are in the process of negotiating,” Finance Minister Peter Kažimír said, as quoted by Sme.

Eurostat questioned Slovakia’s income, amounting to about 1 percent of GDP. It mainly consists of €200 million from pension savers who quit the second pillar, and the sale of the state’s oil reserves for almost half a billion euros.

At the same time, Eurostat claims the Slovak government cannot simply move the income from the SPP dividends for €350 million to 2014, but must enter them in the 2013 accounts. If the Finance Ministry sticks with this argument, the state budget should be under 3 percent, Sme wrote.

The final picture of the 2013 budget will be known definitively in the second half of April.

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