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New website for Slovak businesses

THE ECONOMY Ministry, together with the National Union of Employers (RÚZ), has launched a new website which should allow businesspeople in Slovakia to help improve the country’s business environment. Thanks to the site, Businessfriendly.sk, entrepreneurs will be able to submit comments and suggestions as part of the public discussion over legislation which affects them, increases the costs or is unrealisable, the ministry stated on its website.

THE ECONOMY Ministry, together with the National Union of Employers (RÚZ), has launched a new website which should allow businesspeople in Slovakia to help improve the country’s business environment. Thanks to the site, Businessfriendly.sk, entrepreneurs will be able to submit comments and suggestions as part of the public discussion over legislation which affects them, increases the costs or is unrealisable, the ministry stated on its website.

The establishment of the new website is among 24 measures included in recommendations to improve the business environment and reduce red tape in Slovakia which the Economy Ministry presented together with a report about the current state of the business environment in Slovakia at a cabinet meeting held on April 3, the SITA newswire wrote.

“Nearly every day I encounter various opinions [regarding] the unfavourable state of doing business and investing in Slovakia,” said Economy Minister Tomáš Malatinský, as quoted in the ministry press release.

The ministry says that suggestions submitted to the website will help it to define measures that will be necessary to improve the business environment in Slovakia, and decrease the administrative burden on firms.

The website is intended to focus mainly on improvements that will increase prosperity and promote the creation of new jobs.

“At the moment there is no centralised solution that allows business entities to express their opinion on legislation affecting doing business,” RÚZ states on the website.

The new portal is divided into four main sections: ‘suggestions’, where visitors are able to submit their proposals to improve the business environment or reduce the administrative burden; ‘reports’, where visitors will find out what is new in the area of regulation in Slovakia and the European Union; ‘legislation’, which will contain annotations to prepared legislative measures; and ‘for downloading’, which will contain various analyses and studies concerning the business environment, the TASR newswire wrote.

The website will also feature a competition called ‘Bureaucratic Nonsense of the Year’, which is awarded annually by the Young Entrepreneurs Association of Slovakia in cooperation with the Hospodárske Noviny daily and Zisk magazine. Its aim is to find the most absurd measures and try either to change or remove them from existing laws, according to the website of Hospodárske Noviny.

The expectations are high

The RÚZ listed several reasons for its decision to participate in the project. One of them was that the EU predicts that administrative costs when doing the business stand at up to 4 percent of the GDP of any given country, which in the case of Slovakia means nearly €3 billion, RÚZ explained in the press release.

Marián Jusko, head of the RÚZ, said he expects the new portal to help improve communication and feedback from those who do business to those who regulate the business environment.

“It is a common goal to improve the environment, thus contributing to the growth of GDP and employment,” Jusko said, as quoted by TASR.

The project won the support of another organisation which represents employers in Slovakia – the Federation of Employers’ Associations (AZZZ), which hopes that it will represent “the interests of entrepreneurs, their objective view on the actual state of bureaucracy in Slovakia and on the business environment in general”, the association’s head, Branislav Masár, told The Slovak Spectator.

He said that the project could become a useful tool for monitoring the opinion of businesspeople and getting suggestions and feedback on the quality of existing as well as planned regulations.

Though Róbert Kičina, executive director of the Business Alliance of Slovakia (PAS), considers the portal to be a good idea, he told Hospodárske Noviny that its effectiveness will depend on the willingness of other ministries, especially the Labour, Finance and Justice Ministries, to cooperate. He referred to the Economy Ministry’s plan to forward suggestions submitted via the website to relevant ministries, for them to deal with the problems raised.

Changes still needed

The business environment in Slovakia is stable, though it is still necessary to improve it, according to the report on the state of the business environment presented by Malatinský at the April 3 cabinet meeting.

The ministry focuses mostly on identification of issues concerning access to finance, administrative barriers, regulatory restrictions, human resources, education, taxes and innovations, TASR wrote.

The report includes a list of recommendations, based on the results of so-called GAP analysis, for other ministries, in order for them to improve the current situation.

Its says, for example, that the Justice Ministry should introduce measures to accelerate and improve the effectiveness of civil court proceedings, and pass measures to make the realisation of court decisions, especially the start of distraint proceedings, more effective. The ministry should also re-evaluate the minimum basic capital for limited liability companies, analyse the introduction of the dual concept of minimum capital for limited companies, and establish an insolvency register as a register accessible by the public. In addition to this, the ministry should reduce the period for sending information about a refusal to list a company in the business register, TASR reported.

The Finance Ministry should re-evaluate and simplify forms for incomes from employment submitted by employers in order to reduce the administrative burden and eliminate duplication of data in the forms. It should also abolish the duty to provide financial statements to both the tax office and the court, and order tax officials not to ask business entities which want to register for income tax for a printout of information that is already in the business register, TASR wrote.

The Economy Ministry in cooperation with the Culture Ministry should, according to the proposed recommendations, initiate negotiations with business representatives and organisations dealing with the collective management of rights in order to discuss simplification of the process by which authors and rights owners are paid fees.

The Transport Ministry should prepare a plan to digitalise the activities of construction offices, and introduce categorisation of buildings so as to simplify and shorten authorisation procedures, TASR reported.

The report also recommends that the Health Ministry abolish the need to inform health insurers when a taxpayer delays submission of his/her tax declaration, TASR wrote.

Martin Hošták, secretary of the RÚZ, told The Slovak Spectator that his organisation welcomes the measures focused on improving the business environment, adding that it would monitor whether they are implemented in practice.

However, he stressed that the proposed measures “cannot counterbalance the negative impacts of the amendment to the Labour Code or the increase in taxes and payroll taxes”.

When asked about which measures he thought were lacking in the proposed recommendations, Hošták listed the suggestion of not amending the law on collective negotiations.

Masár said he lacks any proposal to decrease taxes and payroll taxes, or make the Labour Code more flexible. He said he also wanted the state to change the conditions for employees working based on limited employment agreements, known as “na dohodu”, back to how they stood before January 1, 2013.

“Because of these measures companies get rid of employees, people lose their jobs, the state loses taxes, and companies lose this supporting tool in the area of working labour,” Masár said.

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