The Slovenia Times

High-profile Conference Looking for New Growth Recipe


Running under the title "New drive for a new beginning", the 16th edition of the Portorož Business Conference is expected to attract 400 officials and experts in two days.

The government's view on the main topic will be presented by Finance Minister Dušan Mramor, among other officials.

The line-up of foreign speakers includes Martin Sandelin, former vice president of Nokia, Gilles Noblet from the European Central Bank (ECB), Gianluca Soma from Societe Generale and Montagu director Martin McCourt.

Highlighting this year's theme ahead of the conference, conference programme director Janez Prašnikar said that several mistakes had been made at the EU level after the crisis kicked in, so a new start was needed.

Fellow economist Mojmir Mrak said that while fiscal consolidation and structural reforms were required, the question was in what dosages and at what pace.

Considering countries are heavily indebted, Mrak called for a more active monetary policy on the part of the ECB in the short run, while saying debt write-offs were just a question of time.

He said that at the EU level adjustment was needed on both sides - by indebted countries, including Slovenia, as well as by Germany.

Noting that a reduction in Slovenia's public debt was absolutely necessary, Mrak said privatisation alone would not do, although privatisation was needed to improve corporate governance.

He also said that saving measures in Slovenia were so far lukewarm and that spending reduction had been at the cost of investment instead of proper reforms being taken, including of the healthcare system.

A major topic at the conference will be industrial policy. One of the speakers, chairman of industrial concern Kolektor Stojan Petrič, has urged stepping up corporate restructuring and finding new business models.

He believes creditor banks will have to play a major role there, so their staff should be enhanced with "industrially-minded people".

Organised by the Ljubljana Faculty of Economics and the business paper Finance, the conference is chiefly intended for education of business people and an exchange of views and experiences.


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