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FT Publishes Special Report on Business in Slovenia

London, 12 November (STA) - The Financial Times (FT) published a four-page spread entitled Doing Business in Slovenia on Friday in which it examines the state of the country's economy and the government's reform efforts.

FT writer Chris Bryant says in an article entitled "Fresh Approach in Search for Growth" that the Slovenian government is considering bold steps to improve growth, competitiveness and regional influence.

The Financial Times presents the government strategy for recovery involving measures to curb public spending to narrow the budget deficit, and health and pension reforms.

Bryant suggests that much will depend on "the cooperation of Slovenia's social partners" given the September public sector strike against a decision to freeze wages.

The author adds that public debt is currently manageable at 40% of GDP, but could increase rapidly without reform. Slovenia must also pay close attention to wage costs, which is "difficult due to its complex system of social bargaining".

The special report also presents the views of Governor of the Bank of Slovenia Marko Kranjec and economist Joze Mencinger concerning privatisation.

Bryant praises Slovenia as one of the least corrupt countries in emerging Europe, but warns that the public trust in politics has been undermined in recent months due to "allegations of cronyism".

The author urges the ruling coalition to work "to restore public confidence in politics and persuade social partners of the merits of reform. Only then will Slovenia be sure of its position at the head of the pack".

In a separate article, the Financial Times analyses the situation in banking, taking into its sights the state of affairs at Slovenia's biggest bank NLB. It quotes Kranjec's caution that the government will have to tap the budget, which is already in deficit, to provide fresh capital to the bank.

The spread also examines Slovenia's role in the eurozone, its competitiveness, the insolvency of hardware retailer Merkur and the role of the Koper port.

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