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Sunday, October 1, 2023

Entrepreneurs warn that next year will be worse

Piše: M. Bo.

At the first SBC Entrepreneurship Festival, they warned that next year will be more difficult than this year.

The first Festival of Entrepreneurship, organised by SBC – Slovenian Entrepreneurs’ Club, lasted three days (from November 21st to 23rd). At the central event last Wednesday, many entrepreneurs gathered in the new Hotel Grand Plaza in Ljubljana, and an interesting programme awaited them. As it should be, it started with the Slovenian national anthem.

Responsible and future-oriented entrepreneurship

The first two days of the festival were dedicated to young people, namely 15 top companies from all over the country hosted a total of around 1,000 elementary and high school students from the local environment. They presented their products and services as well as their sustainable concept, and the young people learned about the dynamism, complexity, and beauty of the entrepreneurial profession.

The highlight of the festival, the purpose of which is the all-Slovenian promotion of responsible, future-oriented entrepreneurship, was the meeting of entrepreneurs; Igor Akrapovič (company Akrapovič), Dr Jure Knez (Dewesoft), Dr Marko Bitenc (Bitenc Surgery), and Nuša Pavlinjek Slavinec (Roto Group). Joc Pečečnik, president of the SBC, could not attend the event, as he had urgent commitments on the other side of the world. However, he wrote a letter to the participants in which he asked them to think about two things: how important it is for entrepreneurs to stick together, and how important their attitude towards the environment is.

Joc Pečečnik critical and encouraging

Joc Pečečnik was otherwise very critical. He wrote that politicians treat entrepreneurs like cash cows, attack and insult them. “They say that you should take from those who create and give to those who do not. That we will be like in the old socialist times – we will all be equal. This leads to bankruptcy”, he emphasised, “the right way is: work, create yourself and the state will help you”. He was also critical of other employers’ organisations, which, according to him, are linked to politics and are disturbed by the SBC, which was also shown by the lack of support for the membership of the SBC in the Economic and Social Council, and the media, because no one comments on important topics for entrepreneurs, journalists do not ask… However, Pečečnik said “SBC members are honest companies, our goal is to concretely improve our future”. It is necessary to talk to politicians about how to increase revenues and reduce costs, and he himself also believes in the manifesto on Slovenia in 2025, where the SBC wrote that by then there will be no more minimum wage, because we will all earn more, and fair taxation will be the foundation of success.

The construction of NEK must be started immediately!

Companies in Slovenia did really well this year, but it is very uncertain what the situation will be next year, since, among other things, there is still no solution regarding energy prices, we could summarise the main findings of the speakers at the round table. “I hope there will not be a severe recession next year. In Germany, around 30,000 companies are insolvent, there will be bankruptcies… When there is a crisis in Germany, it will also be felt here,” warned Igor Akrapovič, adding that after the meeting with Prime Minister Robert Golob, the price of electricity is still not clear, “how are we going to get through”. According to him, we should start building a new nuclear power plant in Slovenia immediately, so that we will have it in 10 or 11 years, and not wait another three years, “if we want to be competitive in the long term”. He was also quite critical of Brussels’ policy, which “deals with phone chargers” rather than what is important.

The price of electricity

Jure Knez from the company Dewesoft emphasised that the country must realise that it does not have a monopoly and that it must be competitive at least with neighbouring countries. Regarding electricity, he said that the state must clearly tell entrepreneurs what the price will be next year. “In my opinion, the economy could survive 200 euros per MWh, but not more.” Entrepreneurs receive offers in the amount of 500, 800 or even 1,000 euros per MWh, while the price of electricity from the NEK is 35 euros per MWh, the price of electricity from TEŠ, which is the most expensive, is 85 euros per MWh.

Taxes: Competitive conditions are essential

Knez and Akrapovič were also critical of the current government’s tax plans. With the announced changes in income tax, where, among other things, the accepted increase in the general relief in the coming years is to be eliminated and the rate in the highest income tax bracket will be increased from 45 back to 50 percent, they emphasised that for the engineering staff, which creates a high added value, competitive conditions should be ensured. Regarding the taxation of the sale of shares to a fund of own shares in companies and the simultaneous promotion of co-ownership by employees, Knez said that this is “like killing a racehorse and then buying him the best food”.

Entrepreneurial way of thinking in healthcare

Marko Bitenc, who founded two companies, ZZ Zdravje (which marked 30 years since its entry into the court register on November 6th) and Kirurgija Bitenc, noted that “the system is still not favourable to entrepreneurship”. “If there had not been a standstill in the 90s, today people would not be without a doctor, there would not be long waiting lines, there would not be rooms without air conditioning,” he said. According to him, the entrepreneurial way of thinking, management, and development is the only true way to personalise treatment – which is depersonalised in the state part of the public medical service.

Promotion of industry abroad

As Nuša Pavlinjek Slavinec from the company Roto said, in every crisis you have to find an opportunity. “As a pilot, when I am planning a flight, I prefer a storm to fog. After a storm that lasts an hour or two, there is sunshine, but the fog can last all day. I hope that this is now a storm and that it will pass soon,” she said vividly, emphasising that “bad weather is not everywhere”. It is good to look at different markets and spread the risk, which Roto does very successfully. The state should help companies with energy transformation and promote Slovenian industry abroad more, just as it did with tourism, she added.


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