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Vice Premier Says No Way Economic Reform Laws Can be Adopted by Year’s End

December 25, 1988

BELGRADE, Yugoslavia (AP) _ Vice Premier Milos Milosavljevic warned Sunday that some of the economic reforms before lawmakers likely will not be passed until the middle of next year, the official Tanjug news agency said.

The series of laws to introduce market-oriented reforms are designed to turn around the faltering economy and bolster Premier Branko Mikulic’s much- criticized Cabinet.

Yugoslavia’s inflation rate - the highest in Europe - is running at close to 300 percent and the country is grappling with a $21 billion debt and rising unemployment.

This year there have been a record 1,000-plus strikes to demand higher wages and protest sinking living standards.

″Expectations, and even demands, are unrealistic,″ that dozens of laws regulating the economic reform could be passed before Dec. 31, Tanjug quoted Milosavljevic as saying.

Yugoslavia’s parliament was meeting through the weekend to pass at least nine laws considered crucial to the reform.

The rest would be passed by mid-1989, Milosavljevic said.

Mikulic’s government has been harshly criticized for its unsuccessful anti- inflation policies and failure to halt the economic decline, leading to speculation that the government may soon be forced to resign.

The Sarajevo daily Oslobodjenje commented that the inflation rate ″hangs like the sword of Damocles″ over Mikulic’s Cabinet.

Vecernje Novosti Belgrade daily on Saturday charged Mikulic ″sowed unfounded hope that his government would win the battle for economic reform ... and threw in despair every honest worker who could no longer cope with the inflation″

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