THE POOR efficiency of Slovakia’s legal framework in settling disputes, perceived favouritism in decisions by its government officials, low public trust in its politicians, the high burden of government regulation and the low quality of government services for improved business performances have this year delivered the country its worst-ever ranking in the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) Global Competitiveness Report since its original inclusion in 1997.
Slovakia’s competitiveness ranking, as judged by the WEF, dropped from 69th to 71st place out of the 144 countries reviewed.
Switzerland, Singapore and Finland topped the 2012 chart, according to the 2012-13 Global Competitiveness Report released on September 5.
Slovakia has become the third-least competitive country in the European Union, ahead of only Romania (in 78th place) and Greece (96th), the Business Alliance of Slovakia (PAS), a partner organisation of the WEF, stressed in a press release.
“Slovakia’s drop in the chart is caused by prevailing barriers in business, which governments, despite their declarative statements, are failing to remove,” said Róbert Kičina, executive director of PAS, adding that Slovakia has definitely lost its image as a reforming country and that since 2004 businesses have waited in vain for new reforms with the potential to improve conditions.
According to Kičina, who also serves as an external advisor to Economy Minister Tomáš Malatinský, Slovakia has dropped in the competitiveness ranking for the sixth time in a row and is starting to lag significantly behind other Visegrad Four countries, namely the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland.
The WEF identified inefficient government bureaucracy, corruption, policy instability, inadequate supply of infrastructure and restrictive labour regulations as the most problematic factors when doing business in Slovakia.
In the efficiency of its legal framework in settling disputes Slovakia was judged to be 140th among 144 countries worldwide, while in the category of favouritism in the decisions of government officials the country was ranked 138th, and in public trust in politicians 136th.
Among Slovakia’s competitive advantages is the prevalence of foreign ownership, a category in which Slovakia ranked 2nd, and its low trade tariffs duties, where the country ranked 6th. The country’s legislation supporting foreign investments, where Slovakia placed 8th, was also highlighted in an official press release.
“Long-term passivity got us where we are,” responded Malatinský, as quoted by the Sme daily, adding that the situation cannot be fixed overnight.
However, its authors say that the Global Competitiveness Report 2012–2013 is being released amid a long period of economic uncertainty. “The tentative recovery that seemed to be gaining ground during 2010 and the first half of 2011 has given way to renewed concerns,” Klaus Schwab, the executive chairman of the World Economic Forum writes in his preface.
The WEF evaluates the competitiveness of countries based on available statistical data and a world survey of opinions from business leaders, which took place between February and April 2012 and involved 14,000 managers around the world, the PAS release states.