The Slovenia Times

Retired Banker Nominated for Economy Post


Koprivec served as the deputy CEO of the SKB bank, chairman of insurer Adriatic Slovenica, the CEO of fuel company OMV Istrabenz, and he held a senior executive at OMV Refining and Marketing, according to publicly available information.

He was also an executive at the London office of NLB, Slovenia's biggest bank.

While Koprivec has had a low public profile despite his senior posts, several media quickly dug up an affair involving OMV Istrabenz and allegedly illegal shipments of oil derivatives from Bosnia in 2002, under Koprivec's watch.

Although the case was subject to an investigation, the prosecution dropped it due to lack of evidence of unlawful activity in Slovenia.

Cerar said he had "no reason to doubt his competence or credibility", which the candidate will be able to show during his parliamentary hearing.

The prime minister was initially expected to reveal the nominee on Friday, which triggered speculations that his original favourite had decided against joining his cabinet.

But Cerar said today he simply had "multiple candidates" and took his time to vet them.

Cerar's coalition partners, the Pensioners' Party (DeSUS) and the Social Democrats (SDS), said they did not know the new minister but they expect him to deliver growth.

It is important that he focuses on exports, DeSUS president Karl Erjavec told the STA, while SD president Dejan Židan said his party expected him to be "efficient and competent".

Cerar said he had talked to both parties prior to making the announcement and both said they trusted his choice.

Business associations refrained from commenting on the candidate until he has presented a programme and reiterated their long-held positions.

While the Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GZS) said he should deliver measures to improve competitiveness, the Chamber of Trade Crafts and Small Business (OZS) said he should focus on micro and small businesses.

Cerar was forced to undertake a government reshuffle less than two months into his government's term after the resignation of two cabinet members.

He has already tapped Alenka Smerkolj, state secretary at the Government Development and European Cohesion Funds Office, to take over from Violeta Bulc, who left for a commissioner post in the new European Commission.

Economy Minister Jožef Petrovič meanwhile resigned following revelations that the company he headed faced an anti-trust investigation related to a major public contract.

Cerar will formally nominate Smerkolj and Koprivec Tuesday, triggering the proceedings in parliament, where the government has a comfortable majority.

Opposition parties described Koprivec as an unknown and said they would pass judgement after the hearing in parliament, where they plan to "grill him thoroughly," as United List (ZL) deputy group leader said.

New Slovenia (NSi) president Ljudmila Novak said business needed "a person who knows the fundamental problems and has the appropriate solutions".


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