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    Real effective exchange rates Graph 1. Competitiveness improved due to both productivity gains and continued wage moderation. After peaking in , the current account surplus stayed high in , supported by strong export performance Graph 1.

    Services have traditionally been a positive contributor to the trade balance. However, the recent increase in the trade balance surplus was mainly driven by the rapidly increasing surplus in goods, which was supported by favourable terms of trade, high growth in real exports and subdued import due to sluggish domestic demand prior to Both goods and services balances have reached historically high levels. As domestic demand gradually strengthens, it is expected that the current account balance will start falling but will remain in significant surplus in the medium term.

    The primary income deficit might deteriorate due to higher dividend payments to foreign owners of non-financial corporations while the secondary income balance is expected to remain stable.

    The main underlying reason for the high current account surplus is that Slovenian companies continue to deleverage and retain cash balances instead of investing them see Section 4. Decomposition of external position current and capital accounts.

    The net international investment position NIIP is gradually improving. The NIIP worsened during the crisis, hitting a trough of The trend was reversed in , reflecting the adjustment in the corporate sector behaviour. It is expected that the NIIP will continue to improve in the coming years. Thus, risks to the external position are reduced. The structure of the NIIP has changed.

    The monetary and financial institutions have significantly reduced their net foreign liabilities since the height of the crisis, while the general government position had worsened until Financial sector assets contracted in , driven by further deleveraging in the private sector. The financial sector has yet to fully benefit from the improvement in the macroeconomic condition despite several encouraging signals, such as the banking sector's return to profitability and the positive trend in demand for new loans.

    While net credit flows remain negative for corporations Graph 1. Subdued lending to non-financial corporations is also linked to the high level of state involvement in certain sectors of the economy.

    However, the capitalisation of the banking sector has improved while the decrease in the percentage of non-performing loans has gained momentum Non-performing loans NPLs have declined from Decomposition of credit flows. The better macroeconomic conditions help the labour market. The increase in employment and the decrease in unemployment seen in continued in the first half of with more people finding work than becoming unemployed.

    In the first half of , 5. The employment rate in age group increased by 0. The increase was most significant for the age-group 4.

    Manufacturing was particularly strong while the only sectors not to witness an employment increase were construction, insurance, and financial services. Despite declining in the first half of , long-term unemployment still represents more than half of all unemployed.

    It is still more than 10 pps Income inequality remains among the lowest in the EU despite its increase during the recession. In income inequality started to decline; however it remained above the pre-crises level. By contrast, net wealth 3 is not as equally distributed as income, but is within the range observed in other EU countries for which data were collected in ECB The tax and benefit system further reduces the already low degree of market income inequality.

    Specifically, the Gini coefficient on market income before taxes and social transfers is in the EU bottom quartile. After taxes and transfers, the Gini coefficient drops to a level which is among the lowest in the EU. The elderly are at the highest risk of poverty. The at-risk-of-poverty rate for elderly people over 65 years old is above the EU average before and after social transfers including pensions.

    General government deficit and debt are projected to improve gradually reflecting the favourable macroeconomic outlook. Slovenia has taken welcome steps in recent years to reduce the deficit and improve the sustainability of public finances. The general government deficit is expected to decline further to 1. Conversely, the structural deficit is expected to worsen and remains above the euro area average Section 4.

    Public debt almost quadrupled from to , but after peaking in at Key economic, financial and social indicators - Slovenia.

    Progress with country-specific recommendations. Since then, Slovenia has been recommended to improve the long-term sustainability of its pension system. While a comprehensive pension reform has been prepared, it was outvoted in a referendum in June A parametric pension reform was adopted in but the revisions do not safeguard the system's sustainability post Therefore the Council recommended adopting the necessary measures to ensure the long-term sustainability and adequacy of the pension system by the end of Measures have been adopted to improve the employability of low skilled and older workers.

    Since the Council has recommended measures to increase the employability of low-skilled and older workers. The labour market reform and targeted active labour market policies somewhat increased employment opportunities for older and low-skilled workers, but their participation rate remains low.

    There have been some important reforms to reduce the weaknesses in the banking sector. The situation in the banking sector has been severely affected by the crisis. Consequently Council recommendations in have been focused on this sector, including i the conduct of a system-wide bank asset quality review, ii the transfer of assets to the Bank Asset Management Company, iii the improvement of governance and risk management and iv the privatisation of state-owned banks.

    Since the banking sector has stabilised. Nonetheless, although gradually decreasing, non-performing loans were still high compared to pre-crisis levels and the recommendation to enable the durable resolution of non-performing loans has been maintained in The Slovenian authorities have taken some action to improve the business environment. Specifically, the reduction of administrative burden, the restriction of barriers to regulated professions, and better governance of the state-owned enterprises SOEs.

    In the Commission's analysis concluded that the high level of state involvement combined with weak corporate governance was hampering investment and growth and has spill over effects to the private sector. While a comprehensive corporate governance system for state-owned enterprises has been put in place over the last years, its effective implementation will be essential.

    After the initial progress which led to full deregulation of 40 professions in the crafts sector and 4 in culture, the reforms slowed down and have not been finalised as initially planned. Limited progress has been made to reduce fiscal risks and sustain public finances CSR 1. The appointment of the Fiscal Council and the revisions to the Public Finance Act has been further delayed.

    The pension and long-term care reforms to ensure long-term sustainability are in the preparation phase, while the central act of the healthcare reform is in public consultation. Limited progress can be observed in addressing the employability of low-skilled and older workers CSR 2. An action plan to increase the labour market activity of older workers was adopted. Some progress has been made to improve financing conditions for creditworthy business CSR 3.

    Limited new financial instruments were offered to SMEs to improve their access to alternative equity financing sources and the authorities initiated several measures to facilitate the durable reduction of non-performing loans. Some progress has been made to reduce the administrative burden on business, modernise public administration, and improve the governance of state-owned enterprises CSR 4.

    While the public administration action plan is slowly progressing, some specific measures have been substantially delayed. The new comprehensive framework for the management of state-owned enterprises was implemented for the first time. Summary Table in CSR assessment.

    Summary of the main findings from the MIP in-depth review. The Alert Mechanism Report called for further in-depth analysis to monitor progress in the unwinding of the imbalances identified in the MIP cycle. As Slovenia was identified to have macroeconomic imbalances in the form of weaknesses in the banking sector, high corporate indebtedness and fiscal risks last year, a new in-depth review IDR is needed to assess how these imbalances evolved.

    This report provides the in-depth review of how the imbalances identified have developed. In particular IDR relevant analysis is found in the following sections: Additional IDR relevant topics via their link to investment are the sections on business environment section 4.

    Despite major improvements, the stock of non-performing loans remains at a relatively elevated level. In a context of high public and private indebtedness, the crisis put the banking sector under significant stress. Between and , profitability tanked while asset quality deteriorated quickly. Although asset quality in the existing loan portfolios has improved since then, the share of non-performing loans decreased substantially but remains relatively high 9.

    High leverage in the corporate sector holds back investment and growth. In , private debt fell to High leverage is mostly present in a handful of large companies and among SMEs European Commission, d. Conversely, household debt is among the lowest in the EU The high indebtedness in the corporate sector hampers investment growth. Government debt has risen rapidly between and and ageing is expected to have an impact on public finances looking forward.

    The public debt ratio almost quadrupled between and , to While public debt is projected to decline in and the following three years, in the absence of reforms, Slovenia is projected to see one of the largest increases in public pension expenditure in the EU until One-third of the increase of public debt can be attributed to fiscal and economic implications of state-owned enterprises SOEs.

    The level of state involvement remains high in relation to other Member States. Combined with weak corporate governance, this has had considerable fiscal and economic implications. In particular, it has hampered investment and growth. SOEs have underperformed compared to their privately-owned peers in terms of productivity and profitability European Commission, d. Banking sector vulnerabilities have been reduced. Non-performing loans NPLs have declined from They remain high compared to pre-crisis levels but are well provisioned coverage ratio of Banks have acquired significant capacities and competences in the workout management of NPLs.

    The sector's profitability has improved supported by net releases of impairments and lower provisioning costs. The current context of low interest rates hampers banks' profitability further.

    The consolidation and restructuring of the sector is progressing, with a recent merger of three banks and the completed wind down of two smaller banks. Private sector debt decreased in by 10pps driven primarily by a decline in firm's debt. Deleveraging pressures in the corporate sector are easing but non-financial corporations continue deleveraging, albeit with important differences between individual firms.

    Credit flows in the household sector turned slightly positive in the first half of Decomposition of debt by sector. In , private investment started to recover and foreign direct investment FDI inflows increased. The negative trend in private investment started to reverse in as deleveraging pressures started to ease and the government made efforts to improve the business environment.

    The stock of inbound foreign direct investment increased by Ongoing privatisation and corporate restructuring offers new opportunities for attracting FDI. Furthermore, the business environment needs to adapt to take full advantage of foreign investments.

    The public debt ratio is expected to have decreased from onwards. Strong nominal GDP growth and a reduction in the general government deficit are set to put public debt on a downward trend. The White Paper on pension reform was published in April Its purpose is to begin a public debate on a new pension reform to ensure long-term sustainability and adequacy of the pension system. In addition, a central piece of health care legislation is in public consultation. The proposed measures aim at diversifying funding sources of the health care system and reducing pro-cyclicality of health care expenditure.

    The reform of long term care however has been delayed. The focus of the Slovenian Sovereign Holding has shifted onto improving the SOEs corporate governance and performance.

    Several important state-owned enterprises have been privatised in Positive macroeconomic developments and effective policy action have gradually reduced the remaining vulnerabilities. The economy continued to grow strongly in , both in real and in nominal terms, thus reducing the risks related to large indebtedness in the public and in the corporate sector.

    Progress on the front of banking sector restructuring has coincided with a rapidly falling share of NPLs in total loans, which remain however elevated but well provisioned. The corporate sector has undergone a considerable deleveraging and investment, which was compressed in past years, is resuming, including FDI. Government debt has peaked in and a continued downward adjustment is expected in the coming years.

    Relevant measures have been taken by the government , especially to consolidate and restructure the banking sector, and to improve the governance of SOEs. Several important bank mergers have been completed in A new comprehensive framework for the management of State-owned enterprises has been implemented. Looking forward, action is still needed to enhance the long-term sustainability of public finances, including on fiscal governance and on the business environment.

    Continued on the next page. Public finances and taxation. The general government deficit is expected to decline until while the structural deficit increases.

    Based on a headline deficit of 2. The deficit is expected to continue to decline in However, the structural deficit is expected to worsen in the coming years. In , the structural deficit of 2. Based on the commonly agreed methodology the output gap estimate of —0. However, the plausibility test 9 projection estimates the output gap at Even though this is a more negative output gap, it also indicates Slovenia is experiencing normal times". Therefore, this result would not lower the required fiscal adjustment.

    The positive macroeconomic outlook has been offset by expenditure pressures. The positive macroeconomic context, particularly for employment, is expected to result in buoyant tax and social contributions receipts. Nonetheless, these are offset by higher expenditure, particularly concerning public employees' salaries and social transfers. The decline in the deficit is mainly driven by the reduction of interest expenditure and low public investment levels.

    Implementing structural measures would help reducing the structural deficit. The structural balance is expected to deteriorate in the coming years. This is to a large extent due to the quick closing of the output gap which is projected to turn positive in The low potential growth is mainly the result of the low level of investment.

    A budgetary strategy focused on structural measures would help reduce the structural deficit. The highest part of public expenditure is allocated to social protection, general services, health and education. Expenditure in general public services and education were above the EU and EA average 7. Performance and efficiency of public services are further important indicators to be taken into account to achieve public policy goals.

    Spending reviews are a useful tool to improve budgetary performance and expenditure allocation in order to reach policy objectives. Spending reviews would help set firm and multi-annual expenditure limits and define the key improvements that can generate savings. In , at the request of the national authorities, an International Monetary Fund IMF technical assistance mission took place to advice on establishing a spending review process.

    Education, health and social protection were identified as potential targets for a spending review IMF, d. A spending review in the field of social support has been prepared and was adopted in February Spending reviews on education and culture are ongoing. Public debt rose sharply in recent years. It increased from While exceptional items, particularly bank recapitalisations, have contributed significantly to this increase, sustained primary deficits were also increasing debt.

    The debt-to-GDP ratio is expected to have peaked at Supported by the economic recovery and a reduction in precautionary cash buffers, public debt is forecast to decrease to The implicit interest rate on the state debt has been decreasing since The strategy is to extend the duration of the debt portfolio, reducing the roll-over risk while taking advantage of the current environment of low interest rates to reduce current financing costs in the medium-term.

    In , the debt-to-GDP ratio is projected to continue to decline to Public debt is projected to decrease until but increase again thereafter under a no-policy-change assumption. Under the baseline scenario 10 of the debt sustainability analysis DSA public debt is expected to decrease to Conversely, if the ageing costs were excluded from the non-policy change scenario as it would be the case if ageing costs were reduced via reforms the debt ratio would continue to decrease in the medium term.

    If Slovenia were to adopt the fiscal commitments outlined in its own Stability Programme 14 , the reduction would happen at a slower pace than in the SGP scenario, but still considerably faster than in the baseline scenario. Therefore, maintaining fiscal discipline is a prerequisite for debt sustainability.

    The high public debt level represents a source of vulnerability for the Slovenian economy. In the medium-term, public debt poses significant risks. An increasing debt trajectory sensitive to potential macroeconomic shocks and a sizeable sustainability gap lead to high risks for public finance in the medium term.

    Firstly, high risks are revealed by the debt sustainability analysis DSA. Secondly, the medium-term sustainability gap indicator S1 complements the results of the DSA indicating that, overall there are high risks in the medium-term. S1 16 indicates that the structural primary balance would need to improve by 2. Age-related expenditure, namely on public pensions, healthcare and long term care puts pressure on public finances in the long run.

    In the long run, Slovenia is at high risk as shown by the very high value of the long-term sustainability gap indicator S2 The indicator, calculated under a baseline of no-fiscal policy change scenario, indicates a high required fiscal adjustment of 6.

    This is primarily due to the strong projected impact of age-related public spending. Here, with pensions accounting for 3. Healthcare and long-term care account for an additional 1. The pension reform has resulted in positive developments, but long-term sustainability and adequacy remain a challenge. In , pension expenditure relative to GDP decreased by 0. The old-age dependency ratio increased only slightly and the ratio between the retired and socially insured remained unchanged according to Eurostat and national data MoLFSAEO, a respectively.

    Although the pension system is according to the Slovene Government projected to be sustainable up to , an ageing population puts considerable pressure on its long-term sustainability and adequacy. This is demonstrated by projections based on the current legislation see graph 4. While the impact of a short career on the benefit level is around the EU average, it could affect a high proportion of future pensioners. This is due to the low duration of working life, an increased number of part-time and fixed-term contracts during the economic crisis and delayed labour market entry see European Commission, a; European Commission and Social Protection Committee, b.

    These concerns are particularly relevant in the context of the country's sustainability challenges and related plans to further tighten eligibility conditions for an old-age pension. European Commission and Social Protection Committee, a. The White Paper on pensions was adopted by the Government in April to begin public discussion on a new long-term pension reform.

    The White Paper proposes to increase the statutory retirement age and the insurance period, to reduce the incentives to early retirement and extend the pensionable earnings base from 24 to 34 consecutive most favourable years. Nevertheless, the average career length is not projected to increase in the long-term. In addition, the White Paper proposes the point system, gradual alignment of the pension indexation to growth in prices over a period of 20 years and the options to strengthen supplementary pension provisions, especially the second pillar MoLFSAEO, a.

    The proposed measures would ensure long-term sustainability of the pension system under different scenarios. It is uncertain when the new reform will be passed and how closely it will follow the ambition proposed by the White Paper. Timely implementation of the reform and short phase-in period is crucial to preserve fiscal sustainability while maintaining an adequate pension income for all generations. The high fiscal sustainability risk in the medium term in Slovenia calls for quick action.

    A faster increase of the statutory retirement age to 67 years and phasing in the price indexation rule already over the coming decade would reduce sustainability risks further. Furthermore, the White Paper does not consider an automatic link of statutory retirement age to increases in life expectancy, one of the most effective mechanisms to tackle the cost of ageing population.

    Such link is one of the most common and important features of many recent pension reforms see Table 4. It pays a double dividend — it strengthens pension system sustainability while improving the adequacy of pensions by accumulating more contributions because of the extended working lives.

    Absence of such measures or their late introduction might call for additional corrections to the pension system in the future. In the future, supplementary pension schemes could provide an important share of income for pensioners.

    At the end of , Nonetheless, projections show that supplementary pensions could have a major impact on the adequacy of pensions for future pensioners. The White Paper puts forward the options for boosting the coverage of supplementary and in particular occupational pensions through collective bargaining or automatic enrolment. Cross-country comparison of some pension parameters. Long-term fiscal sustainability of the health care system remains a challenge.

    In , total health expenditure in Slovenia decreased by 0. This percentage is below the EU average of 9. Nevertheless, public health expenditure in Slovenia is expected to increase over the medium- and long-term, due to a rapidly ageing population, medical technology and individual behaviour European Commission, a. Measures to reduce costs and increase the efficiency of health care spending can contribute to financial sustainability of the health care system European Commission, c.

    The Country Report suggested that there is scope to increase the efficiency of the healthcare system in Slovenia. The efficiency gains could be made through improved governance and performance of hospitals in view of limited autonomy and responsibility of management in strategic decisions, fixed hospital budgets, weak competition in the contracting process, outdated public hospital network and inefficiencies in the purchasing process.

    A stronger primary care as a gatekeeper for in-patient care, supported by an adequate payment system for general practitioners and specialists, and a standardized framework to monitor the quality of services in hospitals would support the goal to curb expenditure growth. Other measures such as the use of health technology assessments and revised hospital payment system and joint public procurement to rationalize the use of medical goods and health services can help to contain expenditure growth while maintaining access to quality care.

    This year's report goes beyond the general assessment of the healthcare system. The report's objective is to assess current reform endeavours and analyse in-depth public procurement and recent developments in waiting times. The authorities presented proposals to reform the health care system. In January , the draft Health Care and Health Insurance Act, which is the central piece of the reform was presented. In December , the proposals to amend the Health Services Act and the Patient Rights Act were presented to coalition partners and the new Pharmacies Act was adopted.

    The implementation of measures to strengthen the primary health care is in progress. The National strategy of development of primary care until is under preparation. The "family medicine model" practice which aims at better management of chronic patients is being expanded.

    A progress has been made over the past year in the implementation of e-Health solutions. The most important goals of the proposed reforms are to improve quality and accessibility of health care services, ensure sustainable financing of the health care system and increase transparency, whereby standards, targets and indicators will be publicly available.

    Higher transparency can help to achieve better allocation of resources. The proposed draft Health Care and Health Insurance Act is an important step towards reforming the health care system. The proposed measures aim to diversify financial resources and ensure a more stable financing of the healthcare system.

    The contribution base for compulsory health insurance contributions is proposed to be extended by taking into account both active and passive income. The contribution rates are proposed to be unified across different categories of insured people, including pensioners. New sources are envisaged from the general budget while the budget is proposed to take over financing of some programmes e.

    The voluntary complementary top up health insurance is proposed to be abolished and replaced by the income dependant health care levy as of The basket of rights is proposed to remain universal with rights being legally defined and excluding non-health services. The Health Insurance Institute of Slovenia HIIS is proposed to remain a single insurer for compulsory health insurance, however with the newly defined management structure and responsibilities. Specifically, the HIIS is proposed to act as an active buyer in charge of technical standards for material and medical devices, cost analysis and payment models.

    In addition, the HIIS is proposed to contract out health care services selectively on basis of efficiency and quality of providers and for at least two years.

    The authorities aim to increase incentives for hospital managers to improve cost-effectiveness and quality. As reported in the Country Report hospital managers do not have sufficient incentives to increase efficiency and productivity. The reason is that they cannot take autonomous decisions related to activities, payments for performance of employees and the budget. To improve the performance of health providers, the authorities proposed changes in the governance of the HIIS and the contracting procedure with health care providers.

    Pharmaceutical expenditure is rising, due to higher consumption of medical products and new and very costly medicines. In pharmaceutical spending accounted for 1.

    The latest data from suggest that overall pharmaceutical expenditure has started increasing again, most probably due to an increase in high cost medicines. The Slovene authorities also point out the specificities of the small market regarding prices and accessibility of new medicinal products to the population, which should be taken into account when different comparisons are considered.

    Policies to improve transparency and promote the cost-effective use of pharmaceuticals would be beneficial, such as a comprehensive health technology assessment network and a fully operational system of e-prescriptions European Commission, a and c. Public procurement in health suffers from several deficiencies. As reported in the Country Report there is a scope for further centralisation of public procurement and less focus on the lowest price award criterion.

    Many hospitals in Slovenia continue to purchase selected supplies and services in a non-standardised way, i. This prevents tapping the potential economies of scale linked to centralised procurement. In addition, public procurement in health sector is prone to corruption see Section 4. Improvements in public procurement can lead to significant savings. A new centralised public procurement for medicines is under preparation and is mandatory for all 26 hospitals.

    Systematically involving relevant health professionals in the purchasing process from the very start technical dialogue until the evaluation of tenders received remains a challenge. In addition, the small market needs to be safeguarded from the risk of developing monopolies that might result from the choice of a single per-product supplier. This could lead to unavailability of treatment and in the long term increase prices through market concentration.

    A transparent public procurement system can significantly improve resource allocation. Following public revelations of alleged irregularities in public procurement Ekstravizor , the Ministry of Health in cooperation with all public health care providers announced at the end of to collect and publish information about hospital transactions and prices of medical products.

    Based on this data the central register of medical products is planned to be established in the first half of Its purpose is to increase transparency for all involved stakeholders. Easily available and transparent information about prices and characteristics of products will allow for more efficient allocation of resources. In addition, patients will have clearer information about their rights and how their money is spent.

    Waiting times for some outpatient specialist services have increased. Waiting times increased due to several reasons: The ongoing eHealth projects such as e-appointment and e-referral are increasing transparency and can contribute to reducing waiting times.

    In addition, the authorities aim at strengthening the cooperation between family and specialised doctors and increasing patients' obligations. Structural improvements in the management of waiting times are the objective of the proposals to amend the Patient Rights Act.

    Improved allocation of resources can contain long waiting times, which typically have a bigger impact on poorer households. A pilot project "For better waiting times management" began in to identify the reasons for waiting times.

    In addition, more funding was allocated to health providers for certain procedures. According to the latest available data, the waiting time for targeted procedures has decreased on average despite the increase in the number of patients see graph 4.

    Nevertheless, the experience from other countries show that measures which only increase funds channelled to reduce waiting times can only be successful in the short term OECD, Waiting times norms, more efficient allocation of human and capital resources between sectors and specialisations, and the use of ICT tend to be more successful in the durable reduction of long waiting times European Commission, c. In addition, they can better protect poorer households that are typically more affected by longer waiting times as the burden to purchase private providers services might be too high.

    Number of all patients waiting for specific procedures and the share of patient waiting above threshold time. Threshold waiting time is a time that is legally prescribed.

    It is 30 days for a patient with a fast referral and 60 days for a patient with a regular referral. Waiting times for specific procedures. Average waiting times is weighted by total number of waiting patients for specific procedure. A reform to create a sustainable, flexible, high quality and accessible long-term care LTC system has been under preparation since To date, no comprehensive integrated long-term care exists in Slovenia. While it is provided within institutional care, community based services are underdeveloped and not integrated.

    The fragmentation of services is reflected in the fragmentation of funding. LTC needs are determined under several legislative acts, which may increase the budgeting and funding challenges. In addition, the number of recipients of LTC is high and has been increasing rapidly European Commission, a. Until now, no agreement has been reached with regard to the future sources of financing for LTC. This issue is linked to the healthcare reform package currently being developed. The pilot project will be used for preparing concrete measures to reform long-term care.

    The authorities have planned to steer the LTC into two main directions: However, the ways to achieve the goals are not yet clear. Alongside the needs, the pilot will also assess the services and delivery mechanism. The threshold of eligibility for LTC services will be also decided. The long-term care reform is in preparation; however several important challenges remain unclear. The authorities believe that cost effectiveness and sustainability of financing can be achieved by strengthening preventive measures, by promoting earlier rehabilitation, by improving the coordination between social and health care and through a better use of ICT like more efficient e-public services.

    However, no clear quantification is yet available, as this relies on the definition of priorities in terms of needs and that of a basic basket of services. Once these are defined, it will be possible to build a microsimulation model to assess alternative financing options and their potential to that yield current and future savings. Implementing fully the envisaged fiscal framework would improve the credibility of the budgetary process in Slovenia.

    The previous deadline December was postponed to the first quarter of The proposed amendments aim to strengthen the rules for all budgetary units and strengthen the role of the Court of Auditors in budget implementation.

    Until now, there was a lack of a multi-annual perspective in the budgetary planning process, and the focus has been on adopting measures on an annual basis. A multi-annual approach to budgeting, particularly binding expenditure ceilings promotes fiscal discipline and will provide greater certainty to citizens and businesses regarding policy measures in the coming years.

    The Fiscal Rules Act introduced a rolling three-year framework for the preparation of the budgets but its actual implementation is dependent on the revisions to the Public Finance Act.

    These revisions would put a multi-annual approach to budgeting on a statutory footing. The establishment of the Fiscal Council has been further delayed. This is an independent state authority with three members, who are experts in the fields of macroeconomics or public finances.

    The Fiscal Council members should be proposed by the government and a two-thirds majority of the Parliament is required to confirm their appointment. After three unsuccessful procedures to appoint members, the government will have to restart an open call for applicants to find members of the Fiscal Council.

    Hence, the establishment of the Fiscal Council has been further delayed. Following a series of reforms the implementation of the new comprehensive framework for the management of State-owned enterprises SOEs started in According to the SSH Annual report, return-on-equity for the overall portfolio increased to 4.

    Dividend pay-outs in have been higher by 7. A new management plan for , quantifying the performance indicators for each separate SOE and updating a list of assets for divestment, has been approved by the government on 19 January Signs of wavering at the political level suggest that the future of professional and independent SOEs management is still at stake.

    This led the head of the SSH to resign. In addition, the government appears reluctant to take the action required to fine-tune certain aspects of the SOEs management framework, despite the proposals tabled by the SSH.

    In particular, a revision of the strategy that was adopted in July has been advocated while not yet adopted. The revision could, amongst others, facilitate the progress in major deals, such as the NLB privatization see section 4. In addition, it could make the strategy's ambitious performance goals more adaptable to changing circumstances.

    Slovenia has adopted a tax reform which shifts taxes away from labour to capital. In September the Parliament adopted amendments to three tax laws taking effect as of 1 January The purpose of the changes is to boost the creation of high value added jobs, which would in turn support economic growth and increase fiscal revenue. The aggregated taxable base could be reduced by different types of allowances. One of them targeted low wage earners, i. The impact of the tax reform by tax brackets.

    The overall fiscal costs of the tax reform are estimated by the authorities at EUR million 0. The authorities expect the measure to be fiscally neutral. The reform can be split in three parts. The costs of this part of the reform are estimated at EUR 56 million.

    Finally, the third part of the reform reduces taxation on performance bonuses 13 th salary , i. The costs of this part of the reform are estimated at EUR 45 million. The impact of the tax reform by wage decile. The tax reform has the biggest impact on workers in the tenth highest wage decile Graph 4.

    Their net earnings are increased on average by 4. A very small proportion of low wage workers benefit from the changes in the eligibility for the basic allowance. The increase in the basic allowance threshold for low wage earners has an impact on workers in the first half of the wage distribution.

    The main beneficiaries are workers in the second and third wage decile, although only 7. Their tax liabilities are reduced on average by about 6. While the tax reform is targeted, disincentives to work remain strong. The reform raises incentives to work for workers with the highest marginal effective tax rates METR , i. However, METR for these workers remain high. Changes in the basic allowance for low wage earners reduce the METR of workers in the second wage decile by 5. Income taxes continue to contribute the most to the METR for workers in the tenth wage decile.

    The tax reform will have a small impact on economic growth, employment and inequality. Over the next five years, GDP is expected to increase by 0. The impact of the reform is greater for high skilled workers as their employment rate is expected to increase by almost 0.

    The increase in the corporate tax rate is expected to reduce profits after tax by about 0. Inequality rises slightly as the Gini coefficient increases by 0. The impact on the at-risk-of-poverty rate is insignificant. The impact of the tax reform on work incentives.

    The introduction of a revised version of the real estate tax was postponed until Revenues from recurrent immovable property taxation, which is less distortive to economic growth than labour taxes, are considerably below the EU average. The authorities plan to introduce a revised version of the real estate tax by Proceeds from the real estate tax will be revenues for the municipalities. The broader tax base would be measured as the market value throughout a mass valuation system In autumn , the Property Tax Act is expected to be adopted by the Parliament.

    Mass valuation is to be applied to all properties in mid This legislation is therefore expected to be introduced in January The profitability of the banking sector has continued to improve in the first half of , thanks to higher asset quality and lower credit risk.

    The recent increase in net income is in large part due to a net release of loan loss reserves that were built up in previous years. In particular, banks were able to reduce their provisioning due to improving asset quality in the existing loan portfolios and the low credit risk of new loans.

    Despite these positive developments, the low interest rates continue to put pressure on net interest margins as loan rates drop faster than the funding rates for banks, where deposit rates are already below euro area average.

    Financial soundness indicators, all banks. The solvency positions of banks have been generally improving due to increasing profitability and asset quality. The aggregate Tier 1 ratio has steadily improved since to reach Smaller institutions and savings banks represent a higher solvency risk. Risks related to the increasing maturity gap between assets and liabilities could develop when the interest rates rise. As loan rates have dropped, existing and new borrowers have increasingly turned to longer maturity and fixed interest rate loans.

    In a parallel development, increased risk aversion and a general lack of high yield instruments have led investors to put most of their savings into sight deposits, which can be withdrawn at any time. As a result, the difference between the average re-pricing periods of the assets and liabilities has increased. The increasing maturity gap could become challenging in the event of an interest rate hike, effectively leading to a further compression of the net interest margins in the short to medium term.

    Furthermore, the dominant use of sight deposits as the main investment vehicle suggests an increased liquidity risk. Evolution of NPL categories. Bank of Slovenia Note: The NPL categories are based on local risk category definitions.

    ECB consolidated banking data Note: Non-performing loans have considerably decreased over the past year partly due to portfolio sales and transfers to the bad bank. In particular, the local NPL measure, which includes both loans that are more than 90 days in arrears and other risk categories, dropped to Although the absolute level is still high in comparison to other Member States, they are well provisioned coverage ratio of The loss absorbing capacity has increased and the remaining spill-over risks to the sector have decreased substantially over the recent years Graph 4.

    To speed up the process of balance sheet cleaning, the Bank has issued guidance asking banks to specify annual targets and strategies for NPL reduction, which are being regularly revised.

    In addition, banks are asked to derecognise assets i. The Bank of Slovenia played a leading role in the successful restructuring of the banking and corporate sector. The continued respect of its independence and of its role within the ESCB while carrying out its tasks provided for by EU law, including during pending domestic investigations, is of high importance. Banks are improving their risk management practices. Several banks are actively pursuing a strategy to shift to the internal-ratings based approach for credit risk.

    However, the shift to internal-ratings based approach is seen as a longer-term ambition, which allows the banks to build up the necessary expertise and information. The consolidation and restructuring of the banking sector are progressing. Sberbank and Gorenjska Banka are on sale. State ownership in the banking sector is one of the highest in the EU. Maintaining a high level of state involvement in the longer run may entail some risks for economic efficiency and public finances.

    The initial public offering was initially supposed to start at the end of Also, the strategy specifies that no private investor can acquire a stake higher than the government in certain firms, including in NLB. Although the legal effect of the latter provision is not clear, this is likely to reduce the attractiveness of NLB for private investors.

    Finally, Abanka-Celje is expected to be privatised by June , but no concrete step has been taken yet towards privatisation. Insurers seem well capitalised and resilient to the low interest rate environment, but supplementary health insurance may face challenges. The complementary health insurance, which was highly profitable in the past, has seen its profit gradually decreasing. State ownership in the insurance sector is unusually high and results in questionable investment strategies, weak corporate governance, supervisory issues, and risks for financial stability, economic efficiency and public finances.

    The Government seems to exert influence on the strategy of the insurers. These restrictions on the investment strategy of state-owned insurers could hamper the asset allocations and lead to increased concentration risk. In particular, the draft law on public agencies aims to introduce potentially problematic provisions reducing the operational independence of the AZN and ATVP.

    The proposal stipulates that the Ministry of Finance should set annual goals for the two agencies. The failure to achieve these goals may be considered as adequate grounds for dismissal of the responsible director. Similarly, the proposal gives the Government the ability to interfere with the staffing and salary plans as well as the financial operations of the two agencies. These provisions may lead to a conflict of interest since both agencies are responsible for the supervision of a large number of state-owned enterprises.

    The market capitalisation of quoted non-financial corporations is very low compared to the EU average. While reaching EUR The issuing of debt securities has been increasing but is still at a very low level. Non-financial corporations continue to prefer monetary financial institutions MFI loans as a source of funding Graph 4.

    Slovenia is repeatedly late with transposing EU financial directives. It is among the Member States with the highest number of open infringement cases due to non-transposition of post-crisis financial directives. According to the authorities, the lack of administrative capacity human resources is one of the major reasons for delayed transposition.

    Access to finance for small and medium-sized enterprises SMEs has improved and is in line with the EU average. Both the willingness of banks to lend money and access to public financial support that include guarantees have improved. Although certain SMEs are still facing financial challenges, access to finance is no longer one of the three main obstacles for the operation of Slovenian micro and small businesses Small Business Agenda and CCIS Analytics, This is due to the economic recovery, the cleaning-up of bank balance sheets and non-performing assets, greater responsiveness of banks, and some new government debt funding programmes by the Slovenian Enterprise Fund and the SID Bank.

    Nevertheless non-performing loans remain high among SMEs. In addition, the government adopted a bill to set up a central credit register to enable more efficient risk management and reduce the risk of indebtedness. Since the trough in February , household loans have grown by 1.

    At the same time, loans to firms and SMEs continue to contract although at a slower pace. Access to finance for businesses is expected to improve further as the deleveraging pressure eases. Limited steps have been taken to improve access to alternative financing sources and equity financing is still lower than in the EU. One scheme of seed capital around EUR 3. Based on a recent gap analysis, new financial instruments that would be backed by the structural funds are being prepared.

    Given the importance of access to finance for growth of small businesses, a large proportion of the ESIF approximately EUR million will be delivered through financial instruments aimed at SMEs.

    These funds are planned to be delivered via more standard forms of financial instruments, such as loans and guarantees but also through alternative sources of financing, such as equity investments, venture capital and mezzanine financing. Incentives for venture capital companies are abolished as of January Labour market, education and social policies.

    The recovery on the labour market continued in From Q3 the employment rate increased by 0. In view of the rising labour demand there is an opportunity to activate and keep older workers in employment for longer. It is expected that demand for older workers will increase as labour shortages are expected to kick in soon. The participation rate of older workers is well above pre-crisis levels but remains low, especially compared to other Member States European Commission, a.

    In the period , the employment rate of people aged increased by 5. This is the only age group to experience an increase in their employment in this period. The increase was mainly due to the pension reform see Section 4. However labour market conditions for older workers remain unfavourable. Thus, the key challenges remain how to keep older workers in employment for longer and get the long-term unemployed back into work.

    Effectively addressing these challenges could have a substantial positive impact on employment and economic activity. One in three jobseekers is over 50 years old. The employment rate of older people continues to be among the lowest in the EU, despite the observed improvements and the recovery of the labour market.

    The retention rate of older workers is the lowest among all OECD countries. The low retention rate is due to older workers becoming inactive. In addition, the unemployment rate of older people more than doubled since , to a large extent due to termination of contracts for business reasons. Variations in adult skill levels are large with the lowest proficiency among the older people. Nearly half of all Slovenians have poor digital problem-solving skills.

    Slovenian adults do better in numeracy than in literacy. This is despite a significant improvement in literacy skills compared to surveys from two decades ago. Therefore, upskilling, reskilling and lifelong learning policies could improve their labour market participation.

    The national skills strategy, currently being drafted, intends to assess the national skills system and pave the way for policies and strategies to meet future needs and improve the link between supply and demand for skills. Older workers face many obstacles in staying active on the labour market despite the reform in Employers' perceptions play an important role.

    Employers doubt the capabilities of older workers and see them as more expensive and less flexible workers Public Employment Service, Older workers may often not be attractive to employers due to their lower skills and the high seniority bonuses in Slovenia OECD, a.

    The labour market reform attempted to ensure greater competitiveness, employability and job retention of older workers. In addition to the basic salary, employers often have to pay more for them due to the seniority component of the salary system. In the private sector this commonly represents 0. The authorities are seeking to encourage employment of older workers. The measure reduces labour costs temporarily as an employer is exempt from paying social security contributions for up to 24 months.

    The measure was introduced at the start of , and will likely be extended beyond The unemployment insurance system allows people to retire as much as four years and one month earlier. In Slovenia, the duration of unemployment benefits increases sharply with work experience and age. Maximum benefit duration varies from two months for young workers with months of prior employment, to up to 25 months. For workers over 55 years, with an insurance period of 25 years, the duration of unemployment benefit is set to 25 months as soon as nine months of contributions were made in the past 24 months.

    After this period unemployed older workers can receive pension and disability contributions for up to 2 years prior to fulfilling retirement conditions.

    This period will be reduced to 1 year as of March Because seasonal employment can be sufficient for older workers to re-establish benefit eligibility, incentives to seek permanent employment are weakened. Entering retirement via the unemployment insurance system has become increasingly common in recent years, with large spikes coinciding with anticipated pension reforms. To increase the employment rate of the elderly the government adopted a policy paper and an action plan in The policy paper 'Older Workers and the Labour Market in Slovenia' forms a basis for discussion with social partners and may, to some extent, address the challenges of demographic trends.

    The document complements the White Paper on pensions. Tackling the challenges the elderly face on the labour market is seen as a key factor for a successful pension reform see Section 4. Based on the policy paper, the action plan was adopted. I took two small hits off this strain and for four hours my completely normal speech I smoked way more than I thought I did because I was expecting a stronger head high.

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