Slovak Prime Minister Mikuláš Dzurinda has invited Italian businessmen to take advantage of the opportunities the Slovak Cabinet has offered foreign investors since April 1.
Dzurinda, on a two-day trip through Italy with Economy Minister Ľudovit Černák, Finance Minister Brigita Schmögnerová, and Foreign Ministry State Secretary Ján Figel, addressed Italian businessmen at the Italian Union of Industry (Confindustria). During his lecture, Dzurinda introduced Slovakia's new foreign investment strategy which is aimed at attracting direct foreign investment. He highlighted the country's 5-year tax holiday for foreign investors who promise to invest at least 5 million ECU (2.5 in areas of high unemployment) while exporting 60% of their production.
According to Dzurinda, Slovakia has officially become a new, fully democratic country since the parliamentary elections of 1998. He emphasised that the new government is determined to change negative economic indicators, including internal and external indebtedness of the country, the deficit of the balance of payments, and the trade deficit.
The process of selecting a strategic investor for Slovak Telecom and the "big business" that Volkswagen in Slovakia represents were also discussed by Dzurinda.
In response, the Italian businessmen said they appreciated the willingness of the new Slovak government to create transparent economic tools aimed at reviving business and investment. However, many of them were critical of the Slovak customs administration which, they said, has the power to make business difficult for companies wishing to invest in Slovakia. They also took issue with the Slovak law banning foreigners from buying land and some other kinds of real-estate in Slovakia.
On his trip, Dzurinda also met Italian President Oscar Luigi Scalfaro, the President of the Italian Senate Niccolo Mancini and the Slovak Ambassador to Rome, who hosted a reception for the Slovak delegation. He also met with Pope John Paul II.