Moody's rating agency, which upgraded the government bond rating of Slovenia to Baa3 from Ba1 with a stable outlook on Friday, 23 January, stated that one of the main drivers for the upgrade is the obvious progress in fiscal consolidation and an improved policy-making environment, which enables the implementation further economic and fiscal policy reform. It also assessed very positively the stabilisation of the banking sector, which, according to the agency, reduces the risk of further contingent liabilities crystallising on the government's balance sheet.
The stable outlook on the rating is based on the assumption that the policies that support these positive developments will remain on track and that the country's debt burden will start to slowly decline from 2015 onwards. Moody's also said it could consider upgrading Slovenia's government bond rating in case of further progress on privatisations and fiscal reform, and signs pointing to an improvement of governance or competitiveness issues in the corporate sector, which would help to increase medium-term growth prospects.
According to PM Cerar, further strengthening of economic growth and lowering unemployment (according to January figures, year-on-year unemployment fell under 10 per cent) remain crucial government priorities. Furthermore, the government will focus on taking advantage of Slovenia's comparative priorities more effectively, including timber, water and Slovenia's geostrategic position. By boosting foreign direct investment, which will also be facilitated by an investment-structured budget, the government plans to carry out several crucial infrastructure projects, including the modernisation of the railway network and the 3rd development axis, and intensify the project of improving energy efficiency of public buildings, which will have many multiplication effects.
In recent months, Slovenia has intensively strengthened the absorption of EU funds, and is one of the first countries to receive confirmation of all programme documents for implementing cohesion policy in the 2014– 2020 period, which was also acknowledged by Commissioner Cretu upon her recent official visit.