Political Meddling in State-Owned Firms
The panel hosted by Integriteta NGO, the Slovenian branch of Transparency International, featured deputy president of the Corruption Prevention Commission Rok Praprotnik, who said that the watchdog was very concerned with the level of responsibility of managers at state-owned companies.
Many CEOs are dismissed for personal reasons or due to disagreements with supervisors therefore nobody really accepts responsibility for their actions, Praprotnik said.
He pointed to yet another change at the helm of railway operator Slovenske železnice, whose latest boss was recently dismissed after only a few months in office.
Praprotnik also mentioned unofficial estimates according to which the price of corruption paid by the Slovenian economy every year amounts to some EUR 700m or around 2% of GDP.
Executive director of the Manager Association Sonja Šmuc moreover said that close ties between politics and a great part of the economy led to negative staffing selections.
This is in turn reflected in poor business results and the companies' inability to keep up with similar firms elsewhere in Europe, said Šmuc.
Frequent swaps at the helms of companies also do not allow a leadership continuity, she said, adding that the problem was not state ownership per-se but the meddling of politics in companies' day-to-day operations.
Meanwhile, Erich de la Fuente, the CEO of EDF Communications, an international consultancy firm, noted that similar cases of management of state-owned companies were found everywhere in the world. Staffing based on political ties instead of business results is the main characteristic of such practices, according to him.
He underlined the importance of public perception in the fight against corruption, saying that success stories and ethical companies should be highlighted in public more often. This would send a clear message that morality and integrity do pay off in the long term.
De la Fuente moreover believes that children and the youth should be educated about the importance of ethics and morals.
Speakers agreed that a positive atmosphere in companies and institutions and a pay policy that rewards success and integrity are a good way of fighting corruption in the economy. Thus, the panel expressed doubts about the government's plan for a across-the-board pay cut in the public sector.