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SLOVAKIA


 

 

In-depth Business Intelligence

Key Economic Data 
 
  2003 2002 2001 Ranking(2003)
GDP
Millions of US $ 31,868 23,700 20,500 59
         
GNI per capita
 US $ 4,920 3,950 3,760 73
Ranking is given out of 208 nations - (data from the World Bank)

Books on Slovakia

REPUBLICAN REFERENCE

Area (sq.km) 
48,845

Population
5,423,567 

Capital 
Bratislava 

Currency 
Koruna 

President 
Ivan Gasparovic

Private sector 
% of GDP
60%


 
Update No: 105 - (30/01/06)

D-Day in September
The next parliamentary election in the Slovak Republic is tentatively scheduled for September 2006. It is one place where 'Third Way' politics still count; another is the Czech Republic, from which Slovakia seceded in 1993.
The opposition Party, Direction - Third Way (Smer), remains the dominant political organization, according to a poll by UVVM. 32.5 per cent of respondents would vote for Smer in the next parliamentary election, which the governing coalition must dread.
The Party of the Hungarian Coalition (SMK) is now second with 12.2 per cent, followed by the Movement for a Democratic Slovakia (HZDS) with 11.8 per cent, and the Christian Democratic Movement (KDH) with 10.8 per cent.
Support is lower for the dominant party in the governing coalition, the Slovak Democratic and Christian Union (SKDU). Meanwhile the Slovak National Party (SNS), the Slovak Communist Party (KSS), the Free Forum (SF), the Movement for Democracy (HZD) and the New Civic Alliance (ANO) are also ailing in the wings.

Dzurinda outlasts his popular welcome?
Since October 1998, the SKDU's Mikulas Dzurinda has led a coalition government that included the KDH, the SMK and ANO. Dzurinda won a second term as prime minister in September 2002.
Last year, Dzurinda survived a no-confidence motion after only 60 members of the National Council voted in favour of the SMER-sponsored proposal-short of the 76 required to actually topple the government. 
Dzurinda is the darling of Brussels and other Western allies; but he is disliked at home. He introduced the flat tax that is socially divisive, even if beloved of economic liberals abroad.
In December, Smer signed an agreement with the Slovak Trade Unions Confederation (KOZ). Fico declared, "We are looking for allies to beat the current ruling politics. Everyone is welcome."

The end of another global cynosure
Dzurinda has become a major figure on the world stage. He is basking in the glory of his reform programme, widely seen in the US and the EU as a model of its kind. 
He started it immediately after assuming the premiership in 1998 and was re-elected, admittedly as head of a coalition of parties, in 2003, a rare feat in the post-communist world.
His achievements have helped to facilitate a dynamic economy, which is also greatly assisted by Slovakia's central position in Central Europe, attractive to foreign investors, such as French and German motor manufacturers, and low wage and other costs.
The Slovak economy is experiencing its greatest rate of growth in the past decade. The Slovak Statistics Bureau has confirmed its forecasts and announced that in the third quarter of 2005 the gross domestic product (GDP) grew by 6.2 per cent year-on-year. Slovakia thus ranks as the fastest growing economy in the region, the SME daily wrote. 
Economic growth is being driven by exports and increased household consumption. Economists have warned, however, that this GDP growth structure carries the risk of economic overheating. In particular, rising domestic consumption could result in growing prices. According to VB bank analyst Mria Valachyov, the Slovak central bank could try to tame local consumption by increasing key interest rates. 
The growth of the economy has had a positive impact on the creation of new jobs. In the third quarter of the year, 2.24 million people in Slovakia had jobs, a rise of 36,000 year-on-year. The unemployment rate decreased 1.9 per cent year-on-year to 15.6 per cent. 
The average wage in the national economy increased by 7.6 per cent in real terms to Sk16,816 (441.7 Euro) a month, still very low by Western European standards.
 

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AUTOMOBILES

Kia motors face fresh impediment

Kia Motors' plan to construct a plant in Slovakia faces a fresh impediment after the Slovakian government said it would not give additional aid to Kia's nine auto parts suppliers, New Europe reported.
Former Economy Minister, Pavol Rusko, had promised to pay the suppliers 663 million Slovensk koruna (US$319 million) as an incentive. Incumbent Economy Minister, Jirko Malcharek, said recently that it is impossible to provide state aid under revised state rules, according to local media. Malcharek said that former Economy Minister, Pavol Rusko, promised the money to these companies without the Cabinet's prior approval. According to the Slovakian media, Malcharek said the former minister overstepped his powers.

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AVIATION

Vienna airport group wins control of Slovak airfields 

The Slovak government recently picked an investment group led by Vienna's airport operator to buy the fast-growing airports in Bratislava and Kosice, New Europe reported.
The winning bid of 21.2 billion Slovak crowns (US$687 million) in cash and future investments from the TwoOne consortium beat a competing offer from a group led by Spain's Albertis Infrastructures. TwoOne includes Flughafen Wien, Slovak investors and Austria's Raiffeisen bank. Albertis' group included Slovak investors and TBI, which operates the Belfast and London Luton airports. The groups were finalists in a privatisation sweepstakes launched in September for the government's 66 per cent stake in Slovakia's largest airports.
TwoOne won the initial round, beating three other bidders including Albertis. But a second round was ordered in January by Prime Minister, Mikulas Dzurinda, after government opposition leaders cried foul and threatened to block the deal. 
Opponents said TwoOne would give preferential treatment to the Vienna airport at the expense of Bratislava. The two airports, 50 kilometres apart, are currently competitors. Irish budget carrier Ryanair, which serves Bratislava, also opposed a TwoOne takeover. 
Yet TwoOne promised to invest billions of crowns to upgrade the Slovak airports and build a rail link between the Vienna and Bratislava facilities. "We are prepared to take prompt measures ... as early as this year," said Flughafen Wien, board spokesman, Herbert Kaufman. "Bratislava airport will be enlarged, modernised and made more comfortable." 
TwoOne's winning bid included 11.4 billion crowns in cash and 9.8 billion crowns worth of investments for both airports by 2010. 
Thanks mainly to budget airline expansions, Bratislava's MR Stefanik Airport handled 13.2 million passengers last year, nearly twice as many as in 2004. Kosice's airfield is also growing rapidly. TwoOne estimates Bratislava's annual passenger load would rise to 30 million by 2015.

VIP terminal opens at Bratislava airport 

A new separate terminal, available for VIP passengers, had been opened at Bratislava's M.R. Stefanik Airport, with the airport's Executive Director, Milan Kajan, presiding over the ribbon-cutting ceremony, New Europe reported.
This terminal, a standard service of international airports worldwide, was planned to serve customers taking business and private flights. "The aim is to cut the time that our VIP customers wait for their flights, and provide them with exclusive services," operations manager of the airport, Juraj Vitka, said at a news conference. Passengers going through the new terminal would have a business lounge at their disposal with access to the internet, for example, added Vitka. The airport invested 16 million Slovak crowns (427,000 Euro) in the new facility. "Of course, the return on investment is slower than in the case of a common terminal," Vitka said. "The terminal's capacity is 20 people for now, but it is very likely that it will later have to be expanded," he added.

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MEDIA

CME completes acquisition of TV Markiza 

Central European Media Enterprises Ltd. (CME) on January 23rd completed its acquisition of a controlling stake in Slovakia's most watched TV station, the private channel Markiza, New Europe reported.
CME increased its stake in Markiza's broadcaster to 80 per cent in the transaction. The company said the purchase price was US$24.4 million (20.6 million Euro). A deferred US$5.1 million (4.3 million Euro) instalment of the purchase price was due for May 31st 2006.
CME embossed the acquisition as part of its long-term plan. "We expect better results from the acquisition of control over the operation of Markiza," said CME President, Michael Garin, in a statement. The station was repeatedly criticised for biased reporting under the influence of its founder, Pavol Rusko, who used its news programmes to promote his ANO party and to attack political opponents.
CME's takeover, which followed a buy-out of Rusko's stake, was widely expected to return balance to Markiza's programming, and aid problem-free approval of its application for license renewal. Jan Kovacik and Milan Filo continue to hold minority stakes in Markiza.

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TELECOMMUNICATIONS

Large telecom operators fined 

The three largest telecommunication firms in Slovakia - Slovak Telecom, Orange Slovensko, and T-Mobile - were on the verge of facing fines for failing to enable customers wanting to change operators to keep their telephone numbers, the daily Pravda reported.
Telephone numbers can be transferred, according to the law. The operators should have enabled the transferability of numbers by May 2004, when Slovakia joined the EU. The operators argued, however, that they required more time to prepare for the changes. According to Orange Slovensko and T-Mobile, until July of this year, such updating would be impossible. On the other hand, Slovak Telecom said it was ready for the change, but was waiting for the rest of the market. Apart from the three biggest telecom players, six smaller telecom operators also were facing the threat of the fine, which, according to observers, could reach up to three million Slovak crowns (80,000 Euro).

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