The Slovenia Times

Key to Success: Public, Private Sector Should Not be "Enemies"



Reorganising Public Sector was the "again" the key topic. But how, when, how we will do it? This was the challenge for Boris Koprivnikar, Minister of Public Administration of the Republic of Slovenia,Tomaž Lanišek, MBA, General Manager OEM Europe & CIS, Knauf Insulation Slovenija and mag. Branko Žibret, MBA, Managing Partner for Eastern Europe, A.T. Kearney, an analytical and practical view on how to create a more efficient public administration.

But the key message definitely came from Jaka Repanšek, chair of the AmCham Intellectual Property Committee, who highlighted the achievements of our athletes. By wearing a ski-jumping hat on Shrove Tuesday (people traditionally dress up and join a carnival on that day in Slovenia) he paid tribute to Peter Prevc, who flew over a quarter of a kilometer on Saturday. As an interesting fact, Repanšek added that Peter Prevc is a member of the Slovenian police force and as such, a public servant. He further added: "A public administration official, Tina Maze, won two gold and one silver medal at the World Ski Championship. A nation with only two million inhabitants has super-powers in several sporting disciplines. This allows us to think about what we can achieve in other areas. These sportsmen can teach us that success, individual or societal, in a competitive environment, is dependent on our responsiveness and flexibility."

Repanšek further pointed out the importance of bridging the divides between US and YOU. "By that, I am talking about the divisions between us - the business sector, and them - the public sector, and vice versa. Such splits are extremely counter-productive for the nation with a number of inhabitants, which equals that of a major European city." 

Minister Koprivnikar agreed that the state should be run as a company, but he also said that running the state was a much more complex job: "When you run the state you have the public opinion, trade unions, civil society...".

The debate, which called for effective public administration as a condition for a successful economy, also heard Branko Žibret of AT Kearney, who compared the public and the real sectors, saying that their goal was the same; while the company served its clients the state served the citizens.

Žibret disagreed with the view that the state did not have competition, arguing that competition between countries was strong and that lagging behind could be measured in brain drain.

The minister said he would like to peg earnings of public employees to performance, but that measures for the assessment of their work and clear goals should be set up first and that the employees should be motivated to attain goals.

Meanwhile, Žibret acknowledged that the situation in the public sector was improving, which was echoed by the boss of Knauf Insulation Tomaž Lanišek, who said he had a positive experience with regard to one of the company's investments.

But Lanišek also complained of rigid and impractical rules and laws that he said public employees cannot bypass even when being cooperative.

Koprivnikar agreed that the rules needed changing, but also said that changing legislation or rules took a lot of time, while "panic fear" of changes blocked development.

While high taxes are often cited as one of Slovenia's problems, Lanišek said they were not the biggest obstacle for businesses. He said that more vital concern for foreign as well as domestic companies was the infrastructure and a predictable environment.

Žibret's main complaint against the public sector is inadequate management, with Koprivnikar agreeing that it focused too much on processes instead of goals. He said that Slovenians were very good at writing strategies but less good in implementing them.


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