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Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Entrepreneur Ivo Boscarol: I am afraid that they will also cancel what was good for the economy

By Domen Mezeg (Nova24tv.si)

Socialists talk, set up working groups and spend public money. Those capitalists who have built their wealth from nothing, however, often do something, and the whole community benefits from their efforts. Abroad, such a pattern of altruistic millionaires (for example, billionaires in the USA) is an established practice. In our country, however, capital is demonised because a part of society still has not “come out of diapers” and “believes in a good Santa Claus”.

Fortunately, we also have altruistic millionaires in our country, for example Ivo Boscarol, who set a great example for everyone else with their noble deeds. We are at a crossroads to decide, either for poverty, astronomical taxes, driving away foreign investment, economic stagnation, emigration, discontent, envy, etc., which, for example, branch from the programme of the extreme Levica party, or we can decide for abundance, success, innovation, and healthy humanitarianism, personified by hearty entrepreneurs of the Boscarol type. Philanthropy should not be based on the covert theft of state property like the Russian oligarchy, but on the creation of real added value from which generosity can emerge. In the following, we publish a short summary of his conversation with N1 Slovenia, which you can read in its entirety here. We focus on some highlights. The founder of Pipistrel recently attracted attention with the intention of transferring between one and two million euros to firefighters when a fire was raging in the Karst.

Now that he has managed to sell his share in the company for 200 million euros, he will have the opportunity for the first time in his life to generously help other people. As he says, people consider him “the bad conscience of the nation, because he says what he thinks”. After selling a majority stake in the company, he provides capital to companies based on good ideas and potential and gives back to the community. Immediately after the sale of the company, which he had been building for over 30 years, together with his daughter Anastastia Taja Boscarol he donated part of the money received from the sale to his home municipality of Ajdovščina. With their help, the municipality will be able to afford a modern rescue centre and a helicopter. When the historic fire broke out in the Karst, they promised double the amount that Robert Golob’s government would allocate for the firefighters. At the time, he did not know what sum the state intended to transfer to the firefighters. Boscarol is also interested in Fructal and Elan. He is also a big supporter of the social cap and one of the biggest critics of the wealth tax envisaged in the current coalition agreement.

He is convinced that additional strictures in the area of ​​tax policy will not bring positive results, but the “(tax) carrot” can. Probably the most famous saying he ever uttered is: “Slovenians forgive everything, but not success.” That is why they allocated the money for the helicopter, because Littoral is very exposed to fires, due to a greater lack of rainfall. In the future, it could be used to extinguish fires in the Karst, which are extremely difficult to stop there. In the case of the firefighters in the Karst, he reacted because he was trying to show how much he appreciated their efforts. As he also said, he inappropriately prefers to invest in prevention rather than in the reconstruction of burned buildings. At the same time, the donation should also encourage volunteers to limit the fire before there was even more damage and casualties. When the amount was announced, both the Minister of Public Administration and Golob called him, and they agreed on the approximate course of the matter. The money allocated to firefighters could be spent on equipment as well as on some other thing. He is convinced that (volunteer) firefighters really deserve this money.

It financially encourages companies with top products and ideas: One of the latest is a motorcycle helmet with wipers

With part of the purchase price, Pipistrel also wants to contribute to making Fructal an Ajda company again, and Elan in Slovenian hands. As he explains, he grew up with Yugoslav and Slovenian brands, with which he cultivates certain emotional ties. Many Slovenians feel the same way about Pipistrel, who would have big problems if he did not sell it to the Americans at this point. Of course, he would rather see that the brands that mean a lot to Slovenians are in local hands. There is currently no motivation (yet) to sell shares in Fructal and Elan, but he will continue to look for opportunities for such a purchase. He also has some ideas, one of the more interesting ones being the production of meat from germ cells. He also devoted his life to the fight for clean air. He is also concerned about the shrinking of our space to grow food, while livestock farming is contributing to the ozone hole. He is convinced that laboratory meat production could be part of the solution to the problem.

In addition, this would limit the killing of animals. He also plans to allocate part of the Pipistrel purchase price to this area. Fructal could also devote itself to this area, as it has livestock technologists and cold stores, and at the same time new added value would be achieved. In December, the company Boscarol was also founded, the purpose of which is to manage family assets. It deals with monitoring donations and investing purchase money in companies that have good products and companies that need capital. He is aware of the fact that young entrepreneurs find it difficult to get money. Regardless of a great idea or product, the processes take an extremely long time. On a daily basis, he receives offers for promising ideas. “It is incredible how much knowledge, good ideas and products there are in Slovenia,” he does not hide his enthusiasm. One of the interesting ideas is, for example, a motorcycle helmet with wipers, which was developed by a group of bikers from Ljubljana and has huge market potential.

“The best business is the one you make from a hobby”

“The best business is the one you make from a hobby. Enthusiasm is very important in business,” is another of his words of wisdom. They also recently entered the start-up company Timtec, which is making rapid progress and is dedicated to protection against drones. The latter are becoming a major threat that most people are not yet aware of. It is possible to install a hand grenade on a drone and cause a massacre in front of the parliament or in the stadium. They are planning an electromagnetic system that will destroy all drones at a certain distance and act as a kind of umbrella. The company will outgrow Pipistrel’s current size within four years. They needed capital and connections to develop the product. He started his career with noisy motor kites with converted Trabant engines. Then the company started thinking about how to produce as little energy, emissions, and noise as possible, while at the same time extending the length of the flight path. They made the Taurus plane, which, due to its low consumption, made it possible to replace the gasoline engine with an electric one.

It was the first two-seater aircraft built 18 years ago. It was also the world’s first two-seater electric-powered, battery-powered aircraft. Thus, the environmental standards for the further development of Pipistrel were also set. In June 2020, their electric aircraft was the first to be certified by the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) for commercial passenger transport. According to Boscarol, this is the third major milestone in the history of aviation. Years ago, Siemens and Airbus tried to fill the gap in electric aviation by building electric flying taxis. However, the matter failed due to the complexity of the project. There was also the issue of security. Uber, which was interested in the project, eventually sold it and the matter was put on hold until 2020, when EASA announced that Pipistrel had certified an electric engine and an aircraft intended for commercial passenger transport.

A utopian idea became a reality: Pipistrel laid the foundations of carbon-free aviation

The patent brought the entire aviation world to its feet. Everyone was convinced that the idea was utopian. In Pipistrel, the project paved the way for mission-less aviation, and everyone who was waiting for the opportunity said they were joining the project. Car manufacturers have announced billions worth of investments. In their own way, they shot themselves in the knee, as they opened the way for competition, since they cannot compete with 40 million in revenue. They had the option of staying small or continuing to compete, together with a strategic partner. In the end, there was Textron, a company committed to the idea of carbon-free aviation. However, he remains a minority owner and honorary president of the company, who is in charge of the company’s strategy. At first, he did not share his attitude towards employees with the Americans, but they accepted his attitude on the American side. Throughout his career, he never punished workers financially and always rewarded good work.

In fact, he runs the company in a rather “social” and “socialist” way, and around 60 percent of the employees have a higher salary than him, because they deserve it, and they always shared all the awards. And despite not having a non-compete clause, people did not leave, but enthusiastically participated in changing global aviation. He also did not fire anyone overnight. He was never close to a strictly capitalist approach. And luckily, the American owner had the same values. Above all, he saw that it was possible to work in this way, and that he thought about Americans stereotypically. They also have large projects for the Chinese market. He also pointed out the big problem we have in the Slovenian area: “When Mura got a subsidy or Krka when it opened a company in Russia, everything was fine, when I got co-financing for projects and then expanded production to Italy and China, I was accused by some media of stealing from Slovenia and going to Italy. We Slovenians are polarised and traditionally dissatisfied, no one can stand out.”

“I am afraid that they will also cancel what was good for the economy”

Unlike France, for example, where everyone is a Napoleon. We paid back around six million euros in subsidies received a long time ago through our successful operations and, last but not least, by donating four times as much to the municipality of Ajdovščina, but some people still reproach us for them. I stand by the long-ago said statement that “Slovenians forgive everything, but not success.” In the end, he also gave an assessment of the work of Golob’s government: “People consider me to be the bad conscience of the nation, because I say what I think. But it is not true that I only criticise, I also praise. But I do not tolerate lies. And that is why we have a conflict with the Prime Minister, because after my criticism of the coalition agreement, he publicly accused me of not having read it, which is not true. I read it, thoroughly and many times. As for the work of the government, not much has happened in two months.” Otherwise, he fears that they would abolish what was good for the economy, including the social cap, which he himself fought for, for years.

 

It would be wrong to annul this just because it was a measure of the government of Janez Janša. He was particularly horrified by the fact that the measure was announced by the Minister of Economy himself. But he wants to wait until the first hundred days have passed for a more comprehensive assessment of the government’s work. There are many other things in the coalition agreement that seriously worry him, such as the real estate tax. He is sure that people will go crazy if certain measures are taken. “The higher the tax rate, the higher the percentage of concealment. Therefore, relaxing the tax rate to an acceptable level is the biggest guarantee that more taxes will be collected. Raising taxes and introducing new ones, which introduce uncertainty among taxpayers, has the opposite effect. The tax environment must be stable and predictable.”

“In the US, if you donate to a new school or culture, it is deducted from your income tax”

Moreover: “Therefore, roughly 300,000 remain who work in successful companies and pay tax, from which the budget for our public and common needs is filled. So, 1.7 million citizens are actually cared for by 300,000 employees. You can burden these people as much as you want, and it will still not be enough. Therefore, it is better to release the system so that they are creative, motivated to produce, and fill the budget. But if there is no successful business, there is no money and profits, no tax revenues, and no money for donations. Just today, a colleague called me and said that after my donation, he himself transferred 50,000 euros to the volunteer fire brigade. Because the current rate of income tax allows him to do so. In the US, if you donate to a new school or culture, it is deducted from your income tax. Why not reverse tax policy and introduce tax incentives instead of raising rates?”

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