Bratislava, January 23 (TASR) – The Slovak economy’s estimated development in 2018 was a leitmotif of the 21st annual conference organised by the Slovak Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SOPK) that took place in Bratislava on Tuesday.
SOPK President Peter Mihok in his opening speech stressed that independent Slovakia has managed its viability practically in all fields for the 25 years of its existence. However, this and upcoming years will chiefly be about the sustainability of positive developments. This will require significant changes in the education sector in terms of preparing future qualified workers, as well as in the field of science and research, underlined Mihok.
While addressing participants at the conference, Vice-premier for Investments and Informatisation Peter Pellegrini (Smer-SD) said it would be desirable if individual business alliances and associations unified themselves under one roof, which would be instrumental in the talks on improving the business environment.
According to Pellegrini, several surveys, indexes and tables show that Slovakia is making headway. However, it would be good if various international institutions make their evaluations based on the latest data, as they often work with old data that no longer match reality.
The vice-premier dedicated a major part of his appearance to structural funds and their drawing, labelling them as one of the significant development factors for Slovakia.
„In the previous programming period 2007-2013, we managed to draw almost 97 percent of financial resources from them, which is over €11.2 billion. The business sector was significantly supported from structural funds, too. Business entities acquired a contribution of over €1.1 billion from EU funds and from the state budget for co-financing their almost 3,000 projects. We managed to create plenty of new jobs, support higher-quality education, better infrastructure, ensure investments in research and development, as well as in other fields that help to increase Slovakia’s competitiveness in the global economy,“ stated Pellegrini.
Pellegrini stated that significant headway was made in implementing EU structural and investment funds in the programming period 2014-2020 in 2017. EU funds equalling 34.4 percent of the total allocation had already been contracted, which is an increase of 156.2 percent (21 percentage points).
Several measures that simplified the paper work in filing applications for subsidies were put into practice last year. Reducing red tape, filing applications in an electronic form and scrapping supplements are particular measures that have been implemented within the „Once and Enough“ initiative. Authorities will use available registers, and businessmen can dedicate the spare time to a higher-quality preparation of their projects. All businessmen in Slovakia have already set up their electronic mailboxes, and they can thus file their applications comfortably from their own offices. Last but not least, they will save tens of euros in fees while arranging confirmations and hundreds of euros on using consulting company services.
In September 2017, the Government approved the Action Plan to Increase Transparency and Simplify Implementation of EU Funds, which was prepared in cooperation with an initiative called Stop Corruption. „The action plan is another step forwards, reacting to imperfections that have been found in connection with calls for scientific-research projects and the process of their evaluation. A total of 38 measures have been proposed in 26 fields based on experiences with implementing EU funds, cooperating with the European Commission, steering authorities, representatives of civic society and based on examples of good practice from abroad,“ stated Pellegrini.