SLOVAKIA is the least competitive country in central Europe, and ranks even lower than Vietnam or Azerbaijan, according to the latest Index of Global Competitiveness, published annually by the World Economic Forum. In the 2011 ranking Slovakia dropped nine places and ended 69th among the 142 countries evaluated.
“Slovakia dropped in the chart of competitiveness for the fifth time in a row and definitely lost its lead among the Visegrad Group (V4) countries,” said Róbert Kičina of the Business Alliance of Slovakia (PAS), as quoted by the SITA newswire. He noted that while Slovakia’s position had slipped, the other V4 countries had retained their rankings from last year.
Slovakia lost points for the low law enforcement, the increasing number of incidents of cronyism and non-transparent public procurement, and for the public’s very low level of trust in political decisions. On the other hand, Slovakia gained very good results for the openness of its market to foreign companies and foreign investors, and for its low customs barriers, SITA reported.
“We are late with all the reforms,” Prime Minister Iveta Radičová said, reacting to the country’s lower ranking, as quoted by the Sme daily. Her spokesperson later added that some of Slovakia’s problems can be solved relatively fast, but it will take time for the effects of other measures to show.
Economy Minister Juraj Miškov blamed the previous government for the low ranking.
“It’s proof that they’d been doing nothing for four years, or were taking stupid decisions,” he told Sme. The opposition Smer party, the leading party in the last government, denied responsibility for the deterioration.
Observers , however, also pointed out that the ranking reflects mainly 2010, during which Smer was in power for the first six months.
“The biggest drop was recorded in the deficit [ranking], which resulted from the management of public finances by the previous government,” UniCredit Bank analyst David Dereník said in an interview with Sme.
“Such ranking is a good hint to the government, [pointing to] clear areas where big problems persist in Slovakia, and where we are lagging behind,” Dereník said, and explained that investors regard the ranking as only one among many factors affecting their decisions.
12. Sep 2011 at 0:00 | Radka Minarechová