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ECONOMIC BRIEFS

Slovak labor force 'highly qualified and inexpensive'

At a conference titled "Slovakia's Labour Force as a Competitive Advantage: Myth or Reality," Slovakia's labour force was deemed to be highly qualified and affordable by Deputy Prime Minister for Economy Ivan Mikloš during his presentation on November 9. The conference was organised by the economic weekly newspaper Trend.

According to Mikloš, the average wage per hour in Slovakia is $1.20, compared to $1.40 in Poland and $1.90 in Hungary. The average hourly wage in EU member countries is $15.10.

Moreover, Mikloš said that Slovakia's labour force is highly qualified and that the country has excellent subcontractors and a good telecommunications infrastructure. In spite of these positive factors, he continued, Slovakia has experienced little inflow of direct foreign investments, a result of political and economic instability in the past and insufficient transparency in the economy.

Compared to 58 other countries undergoing economic transformation, Slovakia has some of the worst indicators regarding tax burdens, the effectiveness of state administration, corruption and law enforcement. On the other hand, Slovakia ranks highly in other areas, such as the ability to use information technologies, the share of companies connected to the Internet and the extent of knowledge of students in mathematics and natural sciences. In these areas, Mikloš said, Slovakia trails only Singapore and Taiwan.

Finance Minister Brigita Schmögnerová said the low wages in Slovakia are only a temporary comparative advantage. "We have to avoid... an unjustified differentiation in the wages of employees," she added. She considers wage differences of 10- and more-fold as inappropriate.

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