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Bulgaria: 160,000 State Jobs To Be Cut Next Year

Sofia, 3 April 1997 (RFE/RL) -- Bulgaria's caretaker Labor Minister Ivan Neikov said today that 160,000 state sector jobs will be eliminated by the end of this year as part of Sofia's attempt to cut budget spending on loss-making state firms.

The state news agency, BTA, quote Neikov as saying that 100,000 industrial and 60,000 administrative jobs will be cut.

The interim government, in charge until April 19 elections, is implementing a program to speed privatization and instill financial discipline. The International Monetary Fund has linked a $659 million loan to progress on reforms.

Those who lose state sector jobs will have the choice of a one-time payment of $250 or regular unemployment benefits over three months. Unemployment benefits will be made in proportion to employees' wages.

Earlier today, Sofia said it will privatize 24 state-owned firms to meet IMF requirements for fresh credits. Our Sofia correspondent says most companies to be privatized are export-oriented.