On the first day of spring the governance of the state will be (most probably) assumed by the new Government of the Republic of Slovenia, already the 11th since Slovenia became independent. With the arrival of spring we look forward to the awakening of the nature and more beautiful, warmer days. The spring expectations are inspiring us also by appointment of the new government, which will have to deal with complex social, economic and fiscal issues. The high unemployment rate, which is a result of bankruptcy of a large number of Slovenian companies, may be solved only with a new economic impetus. I am referring in particular to new investments, however not only to investments into large infrastructure projects (as announced in the agreement concluded by parties PS, DL, SD and DeSUS), that may be largely funded by the EU and through the PPP, but also to smaller ”greenfield” investments. The AmCham Committee for Environment and Spatial Planning has in recent years dealt with administrative obstacles that investors confront and therefore advised individual ministers and the government as a whole about possible solutions.

Although some of the obstacles were eliminated, the procedure to obtain a construction building permit remains unreasonably long. The problems occur already at the municipal planning which is the fundamental spatial act in each municipality. The Spatial Planning Act, which was adopted in 2007, set a time limit, within which the municipalities should have adopted the municipal spatial plans (by the end of 2009, the deadline was subsequently extended). Up to the present only 50 out of a total 211 municipalities adopted municipal spatial plans. Therefore, I suggest that the Government speeds up the procedures for adopting the Spatial Planning Act in a way that everyone in charge of giving the consensus from the state give the consent in a period of time as determined by law and furthermore that public authorities in issuing guidelines and references should show greater confidence in local communities. I wonder whether all the consents that municipalities must obtain in the process of adopting regulations (there are around 35 of them) are really necessary. On the other hand I suggest the municipalities to use the opportunities offered by the law in a greater extent; i.e. in the case of non-response of the state authority representative, it is considered that the consent has been given. Namely, the municipalities do not use this instrument as if they perhaps fear the retaliation of state authorities.

Who has not heard yet of successful entrepreneurs who have moved their production to one of the neighboring countries because they were unable to obtain a construction building permit within a reasonable time? There are many such cases. With the lengthy procedures to obtain construction building permits, we are unfortunately causing an immense economic damage to individual investors (investment in land acquisitions, costs related to the documentation required), whereas the state is deprived of new job posts and of the inflow of new taxes in the budget. It is essential to simplify the issuing of construction building permits and to properly educate the officials issuing them (too often the reason for the delay procedures is in lack of knowledge and experiences of the officials). Also the change in the mentality of neighbors who tend to oppose new constructions and therefore put in often unfounded complaints, would improve a lot.

I would like to point out two more issues that have a strong impact on (un) investment activity in Slovenia. One of the two issues is in the land prices and the other in the municipal contributions. Both are in most of the cases too high. If we wish to speed up new constructions, we have to ensure lower land prices and in particular cheaper municipal contributions. Of course, if we do not wish investments, then the situation should remain as it is.

I wish the new government would see the current social and economic crisis as a challenge and not as a problem and set clear criteria and expectations to all the employed in state and local administration that they bear a large part of the responsibility for improving the situation in the country. Without an excellent state and local bureaucracy, the economy, too cannot be successful.