Business sector moderately optimistic about 2019
"I would say that business is more aware of risks today and also reacting appropriately," said Sergej Simoniti, the head of the First Credit Insurance Company, the insurance arm of the state-owned SID export bank.
He said companies were not as relaxed as they used to since they are aware of the current uncertain economic environment and face fierce competition.
Blaž Brodnjak, the chairman of NLB, said the bank was in a state of constant stand-by. "I will be candid, we're in crisis mode and we're going to have to lay off 20% of employees in the next five years," he said.
He said highlighted the paradox of banks being flush with money and companies knowing they should invest more but holding back on investments due to the uncertainty.
Domen Prašnikar, the head of financial consultancy Valior, added that companies should adjust now by adapting their business models and reduce fixed pay in favour of variable pay.
Looking ahead, Aleksander Mervar, the chairman of state-owned power utility Eles, noted the state should draw up a contingency plan to kick-start an investment cycle in the event of a global downturn. This would mitigate the negative external impacts on the Slovenian economy.
Economy Minister Zdravko Počivalšek said the biggest risks were geopolitical in nature, but stressed that Slovenia also faced labour shortages.
He indicated the staff shortages could be tackled by tightening social transfers so that only those who really need welfare are eligible, a move he says could put at least 20,000 on the labour market.
Other methods to increase the supply of labour include getting pensioners to work longer, getting youths to start working earlier, and importing foreign workers, he said.
The debate accompanied the release of The Adriatic Journal: Strategic Foresight 2019 by the ISS which details the risks expected to materialise this year.
ISS director Jure Strojan stressed that "we have entered the autumn of economic growth, but there are no preliminary signs of winter storms yet."
He said negative signals were coming out of the United States, but in the region "we don't need to worry for at least another several months and it's not too late to hope for an Indian summer of growth."