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On the 10th anniversary of Slovenia’s OECD membership, Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Janša and Secretary-General of the OECD José Ángel Gurría highlight demographic challenges

On the 10th anniversary of Slovenia’s membership in the OECD, government representatives in Brdo pri Kranju discuss opportunities and challenges faced by members. Attendees of the event were addressed by the Slovenian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Anže Logar, and the Secretary-General of the OECD, José Ángel Gurría. Prime Minister Janez Janša also spoke to Secretary-General Gurría in a videoconference. In their talks they focused on the topic of the demographic challenges Slovenia will face in upcoming years. The Secretary-General congratulated the Prime Minister on responding to the COVID-19 pandemic in a very effective and timely manner.

10th anniversary of Slovenia’s OECD membership.

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10th anniversary of Slovenia’s OECD membership | Author Nebojša Tejić, STA

On the 10th anniversary of Slovenia’s membership in the OECD, government representatives in Brdo pri Kranju discuss opportunities and challenges faced by members. Attendees of the event were addressed by the Slovenian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Anže Logar, and the Secretary-General of the OECD, José Ángel Gurría. Prime Minister Janez Janša also spoke to Secretary-General Gurría in a videoconference. In their talks they focused on the topic of the demographic challenges Slovenia will face in upcoming years. The Secretary-General congratulated the Prime Minister on responding to the COVID-19 pandemic in a very effective and timely manner.

The launch of the 2020 OECD Economic Survey of Slovenia, which coincided with the 10th anniversary of Slovenia’s OECD membership, calls attention to the consequences of an ageing population. In the talks, Prime Minister Janša emphasised that Slovenia is aware of this issue and added that a demographic fund and a government office for demographics would soon be set up to help improve the demographic situation and family policy, while contributing to the education of young people. The Prime Minister and the Secretary-General also spoke about the digital economy and the OECD's work relating to the drawing up of proposals for appropriate taxation of the digital economy.

Minister of Foreign Affairs Logar: “By becoming members we fulfilled an ambition, but we still have a great deal more to achieve.”

In his opening address, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Anže Logar, pointed out that we fulfilled an ambition of ours by becoming members, but we still have a great deal more to achieve.

He also highlighted the progress Slovenia has made regarding GDP per capita, internet accessibility, the modernisation of public administration, taxes and education. Mr Logar also noted the good practices in the development of artificial intelligence and blockchain technologies, as well as the challenges Slovenia is currently facing due to the COVID-19 pandemic that brought the world to a standstill. The minister further called attention to the OECD’s assistance in the planning of economic policies, structural reforms, addressing demographic challenges and the development of our system of development cooperation.

“By becoming a member of the OECD, we not only fulfilled our ambition but also became even more ambitious. Which means that we only really reached the starting point ten years ago. There is still a way to go. But it is a good thing, as many successes await us on this path,” said Minister Logar.

“Slovenia has made remarkable economic and social progress since joining the OECD, and the government has acted admirably to manage the health and economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic,” remarked Secretary-General of the OECD Ángel Gurría in his videoconference speech. “It is vital now to stay on track, to stand ready to provide further support where needed to restore growth and then continue with measures to tackle the long-term economic challenges of an ageing population.”

Reactions to the OECD Economic Survey

The OECD launched its Economic Survey of Slovenia on the 10th anniversary of Slovenia’s OECD membership. The survey summarises the economic state of the country and provides recommendations going forward. In its report, the OECD calls attention to the problem of ageing population in Slovenia, which has a strong impact on Slovenia’s pension system, healthcare system and labour market. The document also contains recommendations on how to undertake the necessary reforms. With its experts, Slovenia also contributes to the OECD with knowledge and development of specific fields, especially in the field of artificial intelligence.

Minister Šircelj: The epidemic has demanded a major fiscal response, but people’s health remains a priority

“The OECD analysis focuses on the very topical field of population ageing and particularly on its impact on the long-term stability of public finances, the labour market and healthcare,” said Finance Minister Andrej Šircelj, adding that the document is a comprehensive analysis of very relevant areas that are crucial in planning for the future development and well-being of all.

Minister Šircelj then pointed out the crisis caused by the COVID-19 epidemic. "The OECD also acknowledges that Slovenia reacted quickly and correctly, and that the situation is relatively favourable compared to other countries. Due to the sharp decline in production, a large fiscal response was needed to increase healthcare capacities, compensate for lost household income and prevent numerous corporate bankruptcies,” said the Minister, stressing that United Nations data show that Slovenia ranks seventh out of 166 countries.

Minister Cigler Kralj: Integrated care for the elderly and a responsive labour market are our key priorities

The Minister of Labour, Family and Social Affairs Janez Cigler Kralj said in response to the OECD Economic Survey that Slovenia recognises the challenges highlighted by the OECD’s analysis, which are largely related to the issue of an ageing population in conjunction with maintaining the competitiveness of the economy and maintaining a welfare state. "If we want to ensure its long-term sustainability and intergenerational justice, we will have to continue to adapt the pension system to social challenges. Any change, however, requires time and agreement on the key parameters of the system’s changes. The field of long-term care is also a high priority for Slovenia and is in the phase of legal regulation," said Minister Cigler Kralj.

He also emphasised that the field of integrated care for the elderly is extremely important to him and is one of the priorities of his ministry. The second priority is a responsive labour market. "We know that this year's situation on the labour market is particularly demanding. Therefore, I am pleased that the OECD report paid special attention to the analysis of the consequences of the pandemic for the Slovenian economy, while the OECD recognises the adequacy of measures to support jobs and maintain income, as indicated only by moderate unemployment growth. I am proud that with the right measures we have managed to curb the excessive outflow into unemployment and preserve close to 300,000 jobs."

Minister Tomaž Gantar in response to the Economic Survey on key challenges in healthcare

The Minister of Health Tomaž Gantar presented the key challenges in healthcare to the attendees of the celebration of the 10th anniversary of Slovenia's membership in the OECD.

Slovenia achieves good results in some areas of healthcare compared to other OECD member states (e.g. in terms of life expectancy, survival of newborns), despite a significantly lower share of health expenditure in GDP than in countries that achieve comparable results with significantly higher resources for these purposes. Slovenia's healthcare expenditure, totalling 7.9% of GDP in 2018, was 8.8% behind the OECD average. As a result, Slovenia's per capita expenditure on healthcare is below the OECD average: according to OECD data, USD 2,859 per capita was spent on healthcare in 2018 (according to purchasing power parity), while the OECD average was USD 3,994.  

Nevertheless, Slovenia is one of the most successful countries in handling the epidemic of the new coronavirus so far. Suitable coordination and healthcare service reorganisation at all levels was key to successfully managing the first wave of the epidemic.

In response to the OECD report, Minister Gantar pointed to the need of solving the problem of human resources in healthcare, especially the shortage of doctors at the primary level, and emphasised that radical structural reforms of the healthcare system in Slovenia should be based on the broadest possible social consensus.

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