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Slovenia Business Week no. 51/2004: Prime Minister Says Privatisation to Follow Liberalisation

Prime Minister Janez Jansa has said that the government will not privatise state-owned companies until the market is liberalised

Prime Minister Janez Jansa has said that the government will not privatise state-owned companies until the market is liberalised. If we sold such companies before market has been liberalised, we would create the same, if not even more dangerous monopolies than we have now, Jansa said in an interview with the public broadcaster on Tuesday, 7 December.

Speaking about privatisation of banks, Jansa said the process must continue, but provided that all the investors interested are in the same position.

If you curtail competition among investors, you lose value, Jansa said. The value added in the Slovenian financial sector is half that in Western Europe. This, he believes, is an indication of poor management and calls for further privatisation.

Jansa does not think Slovenia will ever have a fully liberal economic system, but "we cannot have state interventionism as we have had so far."

Speaking about the priorities of the new government, Jansa quoted efforts to decrease public debt to gain funds needed for drawing EU funds, and measures to raise GDP to more than 2 percent.

In his first interview for TV Slovenija after his government was endorsed by parliament last Friday, Jansa said he expected budget restructuring to be the hardest nut to crack.

This will also show whether the coalition partners are ready to deliver on the commitments they made in the coalition agreement. The document stipulates, however, that none of the commitments that affect public finance can be a priority if this would jeopardise the goal of joining the euro zone.

Jansa said that he believed that the Liberal Democrats (LDS) had good intentions to liberalise the economy, but when the party appointed its people to the key offices in the public sector, those were no longer keen on changes.

"We do not plan to go on the same way; if we did, and replace all those people at once with senior officials of the incumbent government coalition, we would have the same situation, facing resistance to changes from within," Jansa said.

The prime minister also spoke about foreign policy issues, saying that Slovenia's upcoming stint at the helm of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and in the joint presidency over the EU as of 2007 would be big challenges in terms of funds and personnel.

The presidency over the EU would be the bigger challenge, but "this is something that Slovenia cannot shrink from as an EU member," Jansa said. The OSCE chairmanship will be an easier, although still tough job.

"Nobody really expects that any major changes can be made in the organisation by consensus - the OSCE associates 50 very different countries, there are Russia as well as the US and a number of other countries, moreover some of the member states are very critical of the organisation - and it will require a lot of diplomatic skill and knowledge to make at least small steps."

Source: Slovene Press Agency STA

Author: STA