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Slovenian report Slovenian report
by Euro Reporter
2011-02-23 09:49:03
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Slovenian consumer morale at 18-month low

Slovenia's consumer confidence further worsened in February to its lowest level since mid-2009, a survey conducted by the Statistical Office of the Republic of Slovenia revealed Monday.  The seasonally adjusted consumer confidence indicator dropped to minus 28 from minus 26 in January. The latest reading was the weakest since May 2009, when it was minus 29.

The primary factor that contributed to the latest fall in the index was the pessimistic views of households about their financial position in the next 12 months. Separately, the statistical office said the economic sentiment indicator was at minus 7 in February, unchanged from the previous month. The manufacturing confidence index also held steady at 4, which is its strongest reading since July last year.


Govt support drops further

Support for the Borut Pahor government fell again by a notch in February, as the Vox Populi poll by the Ninamedia pollster found that almost 80% (up from 78.3% a month earlier) of Slovenians disapprove of its work. The opposition Democrats (SDS) are meanwhile leading the party rankings.

The SDS however saw its popularity drop by two percentage points to 19.3%, while the ruling Social Democrats were almost level compared to the month before at 10.3%. The third most popular party is the coalition Pensioner's Party (DeSUS) with 8.8% of the support (up 1.8 percentage points), followed by the opposition National Party (SNS) with 4.8% (down from 5.1% in January).

The only party to see its popularity rise besides DeSUS is the coalition Liberal Democrats (LDS), which got 4.6%. The opposition People's Party (SLS) got 4.2% and coalition Zares only 2.2% of the support. The list of most popular politicians is still led by President Danilo Tuerk, followed by European Environment Commissioner Janez Potocnik and DeSUS president Karl Erjavec. The poll was conducted for commercial broadcaster POP TV and daily Dnevnik between 14 and 16 February among 700 respondents.


Slovenia has been deeply affected by the global crisis but the future looks bright-OECD

OECD has published a report on Slovenia’s economic survey for 2011, last week. In the report, OECD states that Slovenia has been deeply affected by the global crisis, but is now recovering gradually along with the rest of the OECD area. As Slovenia is a small open economy within the euro area, it is crucial for it to rapidly rebalance its economy and restore competitiveness. The proposed pension reform is a first step in the right direction to improve fiscal sustainability and boost labour supply. However, a further comprehensive pension reform is needed. To get closer to the technology and efficiency frontiers, reforms of the education system and policies to promote innovation, labour market flexibility and a friendlier environment for foreign direct investment (FDI) would be helpful. The fiscal targets of the government’s consolidation plan are appropriate, but all spending reductions planned through 2013 should be spelled out in full to foster market confidence, and additional measures should be considered if needed. The introduction of an expenditure rule and the establishment of a fiscal council are welcome, but the government should avoid inconsistency of macroeconomic forecasts by making the Institute of Macroeconomic Analysis and Development (IMAD) the only source of the macroeconomic assumptions used for the budget law, as was the case prior to summer 2010. As the proposed pension reform falls well short of expected financing needs by 2060, a further more comprehensive reform is needed to reduce the generosity of the pension system and move it to actuarial neutrality.

 Slovenia is the only OECD country where spending per student at the tertiary level is less than that at lower levels of education. Further resources need to be directed to tertiary education where there is room for substantial improvement in outcomes, including higher completion rates and shorter study durations. This could be achieved by introducing universal tuition fees in tandem with loans with income-contingent repayment.

Also, savings could be gained by enhancing spending efficiency in early childhood and basic education, which are plagued by high costs due to low pupil–teacher ratios, small class sizes and high numbers of non–teaching staff. Merging schools and extending catchment areas, while taking into account other socio-economic considerations, could bring significant efficiency gains. Greater reliance on foreign direct investment would improve efficiency and the industrial structure of the economy. Slovenia’s international attractiveness could be enhanced by easing employment protection, reducing the level of the minimum wage relative to the median wage and gearing innovation policies towards a demand-driven framework. Public ownership should be made more efficient through better governance and higher exposure to competition. It could also be rationalised by accelerating privatisation and turning the state-owned investment funds into portfolio investors. This would promote FDI, deepen Slovenia’s capital market and improve corporate governance. The authorities must ensure that the corporate governance of the remaining state-owned enterprises conforms to international standards of best practice, in which the recently created central ownership agency has to play a prominent role. Source; OECD

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