BRATISLAVA Region – with the country’s capital – is the natural centre of state administration, business, education, and culture in Slovakia. Bratislava is the home address for many companies and state institutions and there is a high concentration of businesses from all sectors of industry, services and trade. Bratislava Region’s appeal is also reflected in the high inflow of direct foreign investment into the area, which accounted for 67.7 percent of the country’s total direct foreign investments at the end of 2007, according to the National Bank of Slovakia.
But these advantages are also accompanied by some disadvantages: though Bratislava Region regularly has the lowest unemployment rate and the highest average monthly wage, its cost of living is the highest and its high level of GDP mostly disqualifies the region from drawing EU funds.
“When you ask about complications standing in the way of further development of the region, it is paradoxically the high GDP per capita which exceeds the EU average,” Pavol Frešo, the president of the Bratislava Self-Governing Region, told The Slovak Spectator. “We have the right to draw money from EU funds only in restricted fields .”
He says this is unfair, especially to the three rural districts of the region, but also as well to some districts on the periphery of Bratislava. Frešo hopes that after the June parliamentary elections this situation will change and Bratislava could then draw EU funds.
Bratislava has a long tradition in the energy, automotive, machinery and chemical industries. On the outskirts of the city sit the Slovnaft crude oil refinery as well as the Slovak arm of the German Volkswagen carmaker, the biggest and oldest car producer in the country. During recent years a number of IT companies have located their investments in the capital. Thanks to the developed road infrastructure, a number of logistics parks have mushroomed alongside the region’s highways.
“I see as the most prospective segments for further development of Bratislava Region to stem from the knowledge-based economy: information and communications technologies, the electro-technical industry, bio-technologies, development of innovations and applied research in the sense of a direct inter-connection with doing business,” Juraj Majtán, director of the Bratislava regional chamber of the Slovak Chamber of Commerce and Industry told The Slovak Spectator. “This is especially because of the high potential for innovation stemming from the local network of universities and other research and scientific institutions, for example the Slovak Academy of Sciences and all these are supported by the strategic position of Bratislava from the international point of view.”
Frešo agrees that research and development, which he says are quite neglected in Slovakia, can be the most prospective fields for further development of the region.
“Bratislava Region has the potential and an ambition to become a leader in science and research, also in cooperation with neighbouring countries,” said Frešo. “Self-governing regions can support economic development, for example via secondary schools, which are under their auspices.”
In education Frešo sees the local economic strength as a disadvantage, noting for example that teachers’ wages are the same across the country, make teaching an unattractive job in Bratislava Region, and he says that affects the performance of local schools and their students.
Majtán sees Bratislava Region as a place suitable for the development of tourism as well as what he called “good living”.
“Large and comprehensive development projects which continue to arrive are greatly increasing the attractiveness of the region also for foreign investors, especially in trade and services,” said Majtán. “Bratislava has huge potential in these segments.”
12. Apr 2010 at 0:00 | Jana Liptáková