Slovenia PM optimistic over 'fragile' economic recovery


Slovenia's economy has improved significantly over the last six months, but the recovery is still fragile and more reform measures are needed, Prime Minister Miro Cerar said Saturday.

"We are aware that this is a fragile situation that demands many more measures, this is no time for breaks," Cerar told AFP on the sidelines of a first national convention of his Modern Centre Party (SMC (Other OTC: SMCAY - news) ), which was founded in June last year.

"I am an optimist since we're not talking only about positive trends, but also about (economic) activities picking up and that is good," he added.

With a set of austerity measures and the recapitalisation of state-owned banks adopted by the previous Alenka Bratusek government, the eurozone nation of two million narrowly escaped needing a bailout in 2013.

Slovenia's economy has recovered from a two-year recession, with gross domestic product growing by 2.6 percent in 2014 while the government expects a more modest, two percent expansion this year.

"In a very short period of time, we've consolidated public finances, our ratings have improved, yields (on Slovenian bonds) are dropping, the economy is expanding and unemployment is decreasing."

"We need to continue on this path and hope that the political and economic environment in Europe will remain stable," Cerar told AFP.

Under the European Commission's close watch, the previous Slovenian government also pledged to privatise 15 state-owned companies as part of wider measures to shore up its finances.

But unions, economists and even a junior coalition party have called for a stop to privatisation at least for strategic firms such as the country's largest telecommunications operator Telekom.

"Privatisation must continue, even for Telekom," Cerar said adding "that is a committment made at the highest level of the state.... The process is at a stage at which there is no way back."

Only a month after its foundation, the Miro Cerar Party won a third of all votes at the July 2014 early elections, becoming the largest parliamentary party, with 36 out of 90 seats.

The party, that also joined the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE), held on Saturday its first regular convention to adopt a new name, dropping "Miro Cerar" and becoming the Modern Centre Party (SMC).