October 13, 2017 / 3:44 PM / 8 months ago

Slovenia plans to make investment easier - minister

LJUBLJANA (Reuters) - Slovenia is preparing a law to further ease investment in the country which has secured several large investment projects this year, Minister of Economy Zdravko Pocivalsek said on Friday.

He said the law, expected to come into force early next year, would cut red tape and permit the state to give subsidies of up to 20 percent of the value of the investment, depending on its type, size, location and value added.

At present only foreign investors can receive such subsidies.

The law will also enable local communities to sell land to investors at very low prices and keep current tax deductions of up to 100 percent for investment in research, development and innovation.

“We want to give a message to investors that it is worth investing in Slovenia,” Pocivalsek told Reuters in an interview, adding that the country’s stable political and economic conditions already made it an attractive investment destination.

The centre-left government of Prime Minister Miro Cerar has been in power for more than three years and looks likely to continue until polls scheduled for June or July 2018.

They would be the first regular elections in Slovenia for a decade, after three successive governments collapsed prematurely amid the worst financial crisis in the country’s history.

Slovenia narrowly avoided an international bailout for its banks in 2013 and the economy returned to growth a year later. The government expects GDP growth of 4.4 percent this year versus 3.1 percent in 2016, boosted by exports and investments.

The largest investment secured by Cerar’s government is some 100 million euros from Canadian car parts maker Magna (MG.TO) which will start building a paint factory in Slovenia on Tuesday.

Pocivalsek also said privatisation should be speeded up but that state firms should be sold to investors that will enable them to prosper.

“I hope that privatisation will be a bit faster (in the future) but companies have to be sold at the right price and in a way that they have a future. And that cannot be done overnight.”

Slovenia has been reluctant to sell its major banks and companies in the past decades so the government still controls about 50 percent of the economy.

In June the government abandoned the sale of the country’s largest bank, Nova Ljubljanska Banka, the biggest ticket on its privatisation list, saying the suggested price was too low.

No major selloffs are expected before the general election.

Reporting By Marja Novak; Editing by Catherine Evans

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