STA, 30 January 2019 - The past year has been again excellent for business, so it's time for long-term measures to raise net wages, the Managers' Association of Slovenia (Združenja Manager) boss Aleksander Zalaznik said as he addressed the association's annual get-together in Ljubljana on Wednesday.
Taking a look at 2018, Zalaznik said exports reached 86% of Slovenia's GDP, and praised the fact that 75% of jobs were created by new and fast-growing companies, which was above EU average, as especially encouraging.
Still, signs of a slowdown in Slovenia's main trade partners could be noticed in recent months, and Brexit is another unknown, he said, adding competitiveness and productivity remained Slovenia's challenges, while demographics should also not be neglected.
Nevertheless, an important next step is raising net wages to contain brain drain and facilitate further economic development. So the association proposes a five-year agreement to gradually raise gross wages and reduce taxation.
"A social agreement that we all want a competitive business environment is crucial here," said Zalaznik, who is convinced Slovenia is able to make this leap. "The moment is right, let's take it."
His view about higher wages but also a higher added value was echoed by Zdravko Počivalšek, the minister of economic development and technology.
He said the Council for Competitive and Stable Business Environment, the ministry's advisory body, had proposed the government and businesses draft a long-term plan for wage growth.
"Higher wages and a higher added value must be the goal of all of us, and they are also our responsibility," the minister stressed.
The managers were also addressed by Prime Minister Marjan Šarec, who outlined via video conference government plans to improve the business environment in 2019.
He said the government would draft a proposal on tax restructuring and overhaul the regulatory framework.
The event was attended by President Borut Pahor, who thanked the association for its contribution to Slovenia becoming a better society since gaining independence.
The Managers' Association, which traditionally holds its get-together at the start of a new business year, also gave out its annual awards.
The lifetime achievement award for 2018 went to Bogomir Strašek, the founder, majority owner and director of automotive supplier KLS Ljubno.
Igor Verstovšek, the co-owner of hi-tech company Cosylab, became Young Manager of 2018.
The Artemide award for breaking the glass ceiling to assume top posts in companies was bestowed on GZS director general Sonja Šmuc and Agitavit Solutions director Anka Brus.