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Slovenia Business Week no. 02: Commerce Chambers Bill Envisages Voluntary Membership

The CCIS labelled the bill contrary to the expectations of its members, who expect a strong and influential umbrella organisation

The government adopted on Thursday, 5 January a bill on commerce chambers that will introduce voluntary membership of such organisations. The document will replace the current Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCIS) act, which sets down mandatory membership of Slovenia's lone chamber of commerce.

"The goal of this bill is to ensure democratic pooling of companies into different chambers on the basis of voluntary membership," Economics Minister Andrej Vizjak told the press after the government session.

Under the document, a chamber of commerce is defined as an independent, voluntary, interest and non-profit association of legal and private entities, operating independently on the market, Vizjak said.

He added that apart from voluntary membership the bill does not set the minimum number of companies necessary to establish a chamber of commerce.

Moreover, the government believes the bill could greatly increase the efficiency of chambers, allow better cooperation of companies in pursuing their interests and decrease the burden on the economy, he stressed.

Furthermore, under the new legislation, the CCIS will have to modify its statute within five months after the new law enters into force.

While the CCIS was initially supposed to be abolished on 31 December 2006 if its assembly did not bring the statute in line with the new legislation, the latest bill does not mention this possibility.

As its own legal successor, the CCIS will remain the owner of the chamber's assets until they are divided among other newly-established chambers.

Contrary to present mandatory membership, voluntary membership will enable those members that wish to exit a commerce chamber to do so with a written statement.

Meanwhile, the CCIS labelled the bill contrary to the expectations of its members, who expect a strong and influential umbrella organisation.

Besides abolishing the chamber as a public institution, the bill also fails to preserve the good sides of the current chamber system, the CCIS said.

The bill moreover abolishes tasks, such as vocational education, internationalisation, encouraging technological development, and so on that the chamber performed in favour of all companies.

Indeed, the membership fee was an important source to finance such tasks, which would, according to the bill, cease to be performed.

Moreover, a recent survey among CCIS members showed support for the chamber's own plan of transformation which envisages new tasks, a lower membership fee and a changed electoral system.

Source: Slovene Press Agency STA

Author: STA