A New Programme FOR Propulsive Slovenia and a Strong Connection with German Companies

Slovenia has barely made it back to the level of economic development from before the crisis, but excessive appetites can gravely endanger its further growth. Instead of encouraging development investments in the economy, we eat away at companies’ investment potential while we are simultaneously much too slow at lowering the public debt. Therefore, the Slovenian Business Club (SBC) presented today at its 1st Forum the programme of measures for the mandate 2018–22. The Forum bore the title Unparalleled Cooperation: Slovenia and Germany. With the purpose of strengthening the business done between companies the SBC and the German association BVMW, which has about 550,000 members, signed a Cooperation Agreement.

The German entrepreneur Jochen Leonhardt, member of the BVMW board, and the President of the Management Board of Postojnska jama and President of the SBC Marjan Batagelj today solemnly signed the Cooperation Agreement, which offers numerous new opportunities. 

Upon this occasion successful Slovenian entrepreneurs, members of the SBC, presented the proposals of the SBC FOR Propulsive Slovenia for the government mandate 2018–2022. From among the 16 proposals, the SBC President Marjan Batagelj, the SBC Executive Director Goran Novković, and successful Slovenian entrepreneurs Igor Akrapovič, Marko Lotrič, and Tanja Skaza emphasise the following demands:

-          The same stimulation for all investors, local and foreign (the urgent adoption of the law on promotion of investments),

-          Additional easing of the taxation on salaries, transparent data on salary statements, gradual introduction of a development cap, and the personal income tax reform,

-          Measures for more company scholarships,

-          A proactive immigration policy which would attract foreign experts,

-          Public monitoring of graduate employability and mandatory specialisation of young researchers in economy.

The SBC expects political parties to discuss these proposals with all seriousness and that they will, those who win, start implementing them immediately after the new government is assembled, with the goal of a developmental jump for the good of the economy and people employed in the economy, thus the citizens of Slovenia. “The combination of key measures in the new mandate must be such as if we were going to grow all the way through until 2025, but at the same time also such as if we were expecting a new crisis to strike in 2020. If structural reforms are not firmly enforced, another post-independence boat will be missed and we will face lagging even further behind the most developed part of Europe,” is added by the SBC.

The participants of the 1st SBC Forum were also addressed by the guest of honour, the President of the Republic of Slovenia Borut Pahor, while Member of the BVMW Board Jochen Leonhardt spoke on the topic of how the German association BVMW managed to achieve such great influence on German politics. He pointed out the importance of such economic organisations for the economy, state, and society, emphasised numerous opportunities ensuing from German-Slovenian collaboration, and highlighted the attractiveness of economic cooperation with Slovenia: “Its position at the centre of Europe and connection to the countries of former Yugoslavia and Central and Eastern Europe are what makes Slovenia interesting for investors and exceptionally appropriate as the entry point for the markets of the Western Balkans. It offers the opportunity to invest in energy efficiency, digitalisation, and development of infrastructure. It is also appealing due to a well-trained and educated work force. The innovation force of Slovenia are its universities and other establishments which are, considering the size of the country, very well developed.” He also emphasised that the business environment and business relations of German companies with their Slovenian partners are better than in other countries of the region.

Slovenian entrepreneurs were also encouraged to work on the German market by the Ambassador of the Republic of Slovenia in Germany in mandate 2013–2017 Marta Kos Marko, who highlighted a few of the most recent business opportunities in Germany. The Business Development Director at Bisnode, Christian Schöpfel spoke about the tax environment characteristics of both countries. The 1st SBC Forum also emphasised the difference between the daring Slovenian entrepreneur and the prudent German one. 

A significant contribution to the event was added by the successful Slovenian entrepreneur Igor Akrapovič. The member of the SBC Board of Directors speaks in favour of the increase of all personal income tax bracket limits as a measure to increase the net employee income. “The upper limit of brackets should increase to €800 (16%), €2,000 (27%), €4,500 (34%), and €7,000 (39%).” The fact is that when an Austrian company invests in the salary of its highly-qualified engineer the amount of €7,500, this engineer monthly gets at least €330 more than in Slovenia. “Considering the gross salary of €10,000 this means almost €600 more. Every month. Annually, the difference is even greater due to the favourable Austrian taxation on the 13th and 14th salaries.” The event included the opinions of prospective young (future) engineers who pondered upon the challenge of how to draw those young people who studied in Germany to return to Slovenia.

The participants formed numerous partnerships and agreements. This synergy promises so much, especially if we follow the thoughts of the most successful Slovenian professional boxer Dejan Zavec: “Slovenia gave me work ethics, Germany broadness, consistency, and perseverance.”

Actions for the development jump

The formation of new economic bonds was done in a good atmosphere, including many new ideas and plans for the future. Marjan Batagelj states that the crisis is over and therefore we want pre-crisis taxes. He further believes that the technological society needs educated workforce. “Yet how is that possible when we pay them so much in gross value and what they actually get is so little.” Igor Akrapovič adds: “The lack of highly-educated workforce is a grave difficulty of industry in Europe. Big countries with enough capital try to do their best to attract our workers. Young, highly educated people, into which our taxpayers have invested a lot of money, are going abroad because we cannot offer them similar conditions. The main reason for this is the overburdening of salaries. If we offer them the same amount as other countries do, they still actually get less and that makes us uncompetitive. To catch up with other countries we need better conditions.” He also believes that “we need to offer better conditions to the young so that they can return to Slovenia and create added value.” Another entrepreneur, Marko Lotrič, continues: “Due to favourable economic climate, demographic changes, and the outflow of young experts abroad we need an active immigration policy. First and foremost, we need to attract young people back to Slovenia, but for the correction we need an active immigration policy.” Goran Novković says that in Slovenia the biggest critical point is productivity. “If we want to make a development jump and strengthen our economy, the rise in productivity is crucial for Slovenia.” He also believes that it is time to “change our values and way of thinking and think about tomorrow.” Tanja Skaza touched upon company scholarships and young people: “I speak for the young because they do not look back and sing praise to how it once was, but strive for change and understand that they need to do something to get what they want. That is why I speak for the rise in company scholarships and independence of scholarships from social transfers.

Photos: AV Studio