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Minister Vlačič at Bled about foreign direct investments in Slovenia

Today, the Transport Minister dr. Patrick Vlačič took part in a meeting with the topic of foreign investments in Slovenia, entitled “FDI Summit Slovenia 2010”, which is organized every year by the newspaper “The Slovenia Times” in association with the Ministry of the Economy and the Public Agency of the Republic of Slovenia for Entrepreneurship and Foreign Investments – Japti.

 

In their morning interview, Minister Vlačič and the congress participants spoke with the editor of the newspaper “Dnevnik”, Antiša Korljan, about opportunities for direct foreign investment in Slovenia, and about developing transport systems in light of contemporary challenges. The interview began with a discussion of the share of transport in gross domestic product for Slovenia and other countries. The transport minister stressed that Slovenia should have built its motorways and expressways under concession contracts, while investing more in railroad infrastructure, which is less attractive to investors due to low user charges. However, he pointed out that during the past year, the Ministry of Transport adopted some key systemic changes, which mean that the state will no longer provide budget funds from the motorway program for any future construction. The state will retain control of procedures leading up to issuing a construction license, while all other works will be carried out as part of concession relationships. The other set of key systemic changes applies to railroads. Here, the minister mentioned changes that refer to building railroad infrastructure: as of this year, dedicated resources are provided for railroad infrastructure construction. According to the minister, this will be a key prerequisite for the national program of building railroad infrastructure to actually be put into practice, as we could witness in the example of motorways, whose dedicated resources were guaranteed, while the 1996 national railroad program was only implemented to 30% or less, because resources were not guaranteed.

 

Minister Vlačič also mentioned the national spatial plan for the Port of Koper, adopted this year, which will enable the construction of a third pier, thus greatly increasing the port's transshipment capacity, from 16 million tons at present to no less than 40. This, in combination with constructing a new railroad track between Divača and Koper and thus removing the bottleneck on this route, will be a significant step forward. It is precisely in the combination of these two large-scale projects that the minister sees opportunities for direct investments. In this context, he also pointed out that Slovenia has a rare strategic advantage due to its geo-strategic position, which allows for the development of Slovenia as a logistics platform for Central and Southeast Europe. This in turn opens a number of possibilities for direct foreign investment in Slovenia. When asked which country he looked to as a model of this, the minister referenced the Netherlands.

 

Regarding the project of a Slovenian logistics holding, the minister said he was still supportive of the idea but no decisions had been adopted yet. He further explained that the September conference produced questions which were divided into three categories: legal, economic and emotional, and the answers to these were currently being prepared. Only when these answers are ready will there be a basis for further decision-making. However, the idea is not new in Slovenia. According to the minister, this is the third time a variation of the idea has appeared in the territory of Slovenia, but it had never been carried through.

 

In response to questions regarding the future of transport, the minister said that he expected an increase in railroad use in the following ten plus years, and the development of public passenger transportation.