Business executives agree they should not rest on laurels
The event, hosted by the Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GZS), was addressed by GZS president Boštjan Gorjup, who called for measures to help companies catch up with rivals.
Noting the positive indicators of the Slovenian economy, including many foreign investments and good standings in the international competitive rankings, Gorjup said there was still "room for improvement."
Minister Počivalšek pointed to the challenges such as raising minimum wage, which he said must be done gradually.
He also highlighted the new cycle of infrastructure investments, dispersing of exports and expanding the list of target countries.
The minister also raised the issue of staff shortage. "We cannot influence trade wars, but we can address staff shortage," he said, noting that new staff could be found among the few of the unemployed, pensioners, the young and by importing workers.
Manfred Bergmann, the head of the European Commission's directorate general for economic and financial affairs in charge of Slovenia, said the country had recovered well after the crisis, including because of painful economic reforms and privatisation.
Social partners too played their part with belt-tightening and reforms, so now the general belief is that they should get something in return. Acknowledging that he said that this could not only be higher pay but was also faster growth and new jobs.
According to Bergmann, Slovenia is lagging behind the EU in terms of including non-qualified workers and the elderly in the labour market, and in terms of productivity.
He also called for the strengthening of public finances. "Deficits in bad times were too big, while surpluses in good times are much too low."
He believes an important issue for Slovenia in the long-term is ageing population, noting that expenditure for the ageing society was "getting out of hand."
He believes raising the retirement age was one possible solution but this means that companies must be ready to employ older workers.
Touching on staff shortages, he said that Slovenia was competing with neighbouring countries in attracting workers from abroad, which was why Slovenian companies should increase productivity based on innovation and technological progress.
Taking part in several discussions, business executives identified measures see as vital for achieving economic excellence, among them a more effective public sector, income tax rate changes, education tailored to the economy and capital market development.
Public Administration Minister Rudi Medved said that the public administration would need to adopt management models used by the private sector.
He believes that the ineffectiveness of the public sector reflected the "ineffectiveness of those paid to make decisions". Moreover, he agreed with the position that the government should review executive acts to weed out unnecessary or outdated regulations.
Počivalšek expressed agreement that changes must be made to lower taxes and increase salaries.
Meanwhile, Education Minister Jernej Pikalo commented that vocational training had become very tailored to the needs of businesses, adding however that the education system as a whole could not make fast changes.