The Slovenia Times

Foreign Investors Expect Change in Mindset and Attitude



Among eminent guest speakers who presented the conclusions of the conference and discussed urgent measures needed for ending the economic stagnation, generating new growth and improving the investment environment in Slovenia were Professor Dušan Mramor, Dean of the Faculty of Economics, Ljubljana & Conference Programme Partner, Christof Droste, Managing Director , Hella Saturnus Slovenija & Slovenia's Manager of the Year for 2011, Csaba Tóth, TriGránit Country Director for Slovenia & Managing Director of Emonika, d. o. o., Rudolf Klötscher, Executive Vice President Eastern Europe, BSH Bosch and Siemens Home Appliance Group, Uroš Rožič, State Secretary, Ministry of Economic Development and Technology.

On the basis of all discussions the conference revealed four basically simple conclusions which can help to define operational plans for resolving our general "development" crunch:

1. We, as a society, know what has to be done, at least in the short run, but we are just not doing it because of a variety of artificial, political or ideological reasons that exceed the normal level of rationality; we have developed some kind of "invincibility complex" which is blocking changes.

2. As a result of an overdramatisation of every move or step in our society, we have become a negatively-oriented state, caught in a general stagnation spiral on all levels.

3. Our current political elite are just not listening to or hearing the innovative and vital part of our economy: managers, entrepreneurs, business people.

4. We have not developed a clear, simple and operational development strategy to enable us to adapt to changing global conditions and resolve the crisis involving existing consumption concepts, new trends, energy efficiency and sustainable development − a strategy to properly motivate our people.

A very important point that should be at the core of our efforts for fighting the crisis is the fact that Slovenia is still one of the most developed countries in the world, with great potential that should be utilised:

• The FDI Summit Slovenia 2012 highlighted various competitive advantages present in Slovenia and the fact that FDI inflows would not be affected by the size of the domestic market. Focus was on these competitive advantages, which include Slovenia's skilled labour force and its EU export potential. The main questions are: what are the current initiatives to promote FDI and how can they be maintained and improved?

• Despite its size, Slovenia boasts a very strong manufacturing sector, including hidden champions in the field. We need simply implement already indentified policy measures that include labour and tax reforms to support this sector.

• Slovenia has strong European partners, such as Germany and Austria, with many locally established firms. We must nourish this partnership and enhance it further by seeking FDIs by, for example, attracting strategic partners in other Slovenian firms. A number of cases of best practices are available which Slovenia could make use of.
• Slovenia possesses important natural resources, such as wood. We can improve the use of such natural resources, thereby achieving a higher contribution, rather than merely exporting the raw materials.

• We must improve liaisons between our research institutions and industrial corporations to create high level research or design centres and innovations in manufacturing.

• Slovenia is looking at a record year in tourism, with a growth of 3.1% year recorded for the first 8 months. We can improve tourist contributions by aiming for higher-end and niche tourism.

• We have a huge FDI reserve from non-traditional partners - FDI from non West European partners − for example, South Korea, Japan, China, and the recent surge from Russia.

• We have huge development potential in Energy Efficient Technology; we can capitalize on Slovenia's competitive advantage in Energy Efficient applications, including hydro power or construction.

So, having evaluated Slovenia's performance, we can put together basic criteria to assess the country performance until the next FDI Summit Slovenia 2013 which will take place on 18 September: solving the problem of the credit crunch in the banking sector, continuation of the  short-term stabilisation of public finances without causing unnecessary social tensions and lowering R&D and educational expenditure, adoption of long-term steps to stabilise public finances, primarily pension reform, adoption of labour market reform to increase labour mobility in accordance with global economic trends and raise the confidence of the working force, adoption of a transparent system of state-owned asset management with a clear strategy (what, if, when and under what kind of conditions we will privatise part of the assets), definition of key competitive economic sectors to generate new growth with clear and simple implementation strategies - understandable vision of Slovenia for 10 years with defined implementation steps, operationalisation of the new agency "SPIRIT" for promoting Slovenia - Approach of "searching for investors" instead of "waiting for them".

The goal which is combining all points is very important general goal: to restore confidence and credibility and create a "problem solving" oriented society.



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