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Prime Minister Janez Janša: We will do everything to provide additional incentives for investment in high value-added jobs

Today Prime Minister Janez Janša met with the President of the Swiss Confederation and Head of the Swiss Department of Economic Affairs, Education and Research, Guy Parmelin, who is currently on an official visit to Slovenia. At their meeting in Ljubljana, they primarily discussed the priorities of Slovenia’s EU Presidency and current international developments.

In the afternoon, the Prime Minister and the President of the Swiss Confederation and Head of the Swiss Department of Economic Affairs, Education and Research, Guy Parmelin, visited the Novartis – Lek pharmaceutical factory in Mengeš, accompanied by the Slovenian Minister of Economic Development and Technology, Zdravko Počivalšek. The purpose of the visit was to present Novartis’s latest investments in the Mengeš site as one of the most important of the Swiss company’s sites for developing biological and biosimilar drugs, and the first modern biotechnology industrial centre in Slovenia. 

The Prime Minister also delivered a speech at a short ceremony held during this visit.

He began by greeting everyone that has been creating the basis for a good Slovenian future, thanking all those who have “been doing something that goes beyond the mere economy” for 75 years now, in Mengeš and at other sites where Lek was founded and has been developing ever since. “You are creating products that save people’s health and lives, which is exceptionally important. We have only seriously become aware of this over the past year, when we have been dealing with the epidemic,” said the Prime Minister, thanking the company’s management for proving that production can even be maintained in difficult situations, while also ensuring the safety of all employees. “Many other companies followed your example, which is why Slovenia recorded a lower decline in the GDP than it had been predicted due to the impact of the epidemic. Therefore, we are also having very good results this year in terms of our economic growth and the unemployment rate, and we anticipate making up for the deficit, which we generated last year due to the epidemic, by the end of the year,” said the Prime Minister.

He pointed out that Novartis was a huge corporation, whose income surpasses the Slovenian national budget. “What Novartis is creating at the European and global scale goes beyond just economic added value, which also came to the fore last year,” commented the Prime Minister, thanking the corporation for supplying medicines to the European Union without interrupted logistics chains, problems with the supply of raw materials and all other negative factors caused by the epidemic significantly affecting its production.

“I would also like to thank the President of the Swiss Confederation for cultivating exceptionally good relations with Slovenia, ensuring there are no problems between the two countries, but only opportunities that we can take advantage of to an even greater extent,” said the Prime Minister, adding that Switzerland is an exceptionally important economic and trade partner for Slovenia. "The numbers have been rising significantly in recent years. There are now over 300 Swiss companies operating in Slovenia, with Novartis being the largest, and its investments of nearly EUR 3 billion over the past 19 years are proof that this cooperation is really something extraordinary,” the Prime Minister pointed out.

He also thanked Novartis for its latest investment in the new production facilities, laboratories and office building, as well as all its future investments. “The Slovenian government is taking advantage of the favourable economic situation in the country, which is experiencing economic growth, so we can plan a rapid recovery, as well as development and greater resilience within the EU in order to introduce certain reforms. We anticipate that in the next months and the beginning of next year Slovenia will be significantly more open with regard to the economy and development, because it will introduce tax levels that will rank Slovenia among the more attractive and competitive business environments within the EU, so that there will be more left for all those that work and create here, and that staying at home in Slovenia will offer a greater challenge and reward than seeking opportunities abroad,” emphasised the Prime Minister, adding that the government also intends to streamline certain procedures that are currently impeding highly important investments. “We will do everything in our power to provide additional incentives for investments in high added-value jobs,” promised the Prime Minister, continuing by saying that Slovenia is also looking forward to future cooperation with the Swiss Confederation in all other areas.

“This year Slovenia is celebrating 30 years of independence. At the referendum, where 90% of those living in Slovenia voted for independence, we voted for a future that would be better than the times we were living in. We used to say back then that we wanted to live like they do in Switzerland. That was our dream. We all understood what future we wanted for ourselves 30 years ago, when we were saying those words. We are still not quite there yet, but we are glad to have such cooperation with Switzerland and we know our goals well,” commented the Prime Minister, adding that “we admire the solid, long-standing democracy in Switzerland, which works well and proves that it is possible to implement democratic processes in a way that promotes progress, stability and people’s safety, and gives people the feeling that they are participating in making decisions and creating their own future.”

Prime Minister Janez Janša concluded his speech by congratulating the Lek and Novartis management for all the awards they have recently received. “You are a company that is not only successful, but also employee-friendly, a company that ensures that everyone works in unison, either the management, owners or employees, through which you prove that such a business model is effective and brings about development and an optimistic view of the future. That is what is most valuable, and what in the post-COVID times we need the most,” concluded the Prime Minister.

After the ceremony the guests took a tour of the new laboratories used for the development of innovative biological and biosimilar drugs designed in the spirit of digitalisation and automation. After the official part of the ceremony, the President of the Swiss Confederation, Guy Parmelin, and the President of the Management Board at Lek and President of Novartis Slovenia, Robert Ljoljo, planted a tree in Friendship Park.