Remarks by Angel Gurría
20 July 2020 - OECD, France
Ministers, Colleagues, Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is an honour for me to celebrate with you today the 10th anniversary of Slovenia’s OECD membership.
When Slovenia became an OECD member, the world was gripped by a profound international financial crisis. This was followed closely by a domestic financial crisis in Slovenia. However, the country bounced back and rapidly became a star performer in the OECD. Slovenia’s strong policy performance helped to turn the public and current account deficits into surpluses and more than halve the unemployment rate from 9.7% in 2015 to 4.4% in 2019. Between 2014 and 2019, Slovenia achieved an average annual GDP growth of 3.25%, one of the strongest growth performances among OECD members.
Over the past decade, the OECD has supported and advised Slovenia on essential reforms to promote more inclusive and sustainable growth.
This has included support in the area of education, where progress has been impressive. For example, the enrolment of 3-5 year olds in early childhood education and care reached 90% in 2017, compared to 75% in 2005. According to PISA 2018 results, educational performance in Slovenian schools is relatively good, with above average performance in maths, reading and science among 15-year-olds. Tertiary attainment among 25-34 year olds has also increased from 30% in 2008 to 41% in 2018.
The OECD’s recommendations on green growth have also contributed to greater environmental protection and improved quality of life in Slovenia. More recently, the OECD provided technical assistance to the Slovenian National Development Strategy 2030. This technical assistance has included setting the overall vision for the national strategy, translating this vision into priorities and designing actionable goals and measurable targets for assessing progress. Let me underline furthermore the innovative nature of Slovenia’s National Development Strategy 2030, which shows how well-being metrics can be applied to improve policies and outcomes. The OECD Well-Being and Inclusive Growth Frameworks have helped provide effective support in this area and will allow us to learn from Slovenia’s experience.
The OECD is delighted to have contributed to these improvements. I am grateful for the trust you have placed in our collaboration and for counting on us as a partner in the design and implementation of Slovenia’s economic transformations.
But it is also important to recognise that this collaboration has been a mutually beneficial partnership, to which Slovenia has made important contributions.
Slovenia has proven to be a frontrunner for many new and innovative topics in the OECD.
I would like to highlight the important OECD work supported by Slovenia on systems thinking. Launched in 2017 with the Observatory of Public Sector Innovation, this work has spearheaded programmes on systems approaches in Finland, Sweden, Scotland and beyond.
Slovenia has also set the bar high for a collaborative and strategic approach to skills policies. The government of Slovenia and a wide range of stakeholders embarked on a long-term National Skills Strategy project with the OECD in 2015 that spanned 3 continuous years, was steered by 10 ministries – a record number – and involved consultations with over 100 organisations across the country. This led to a broad range of recommendations to improve skills development and use, which Slovenia continues to integrate into policy to this day. The OECD is delighted to continue this co-operation with Slovenia, as you will be hosting the “Skills Summit 2020: Skills Strategies for a World in Recovery” as a Ministerial virtual event on 9 October.
Another important area of stellar performance is tax transparency, as Slovenia received the highest rating possible on exchange of information on request. It was also one of the first jurisdictions to exchange bank account information automatically in 2017.
Slovenia has also been at the forefront of addressing tax avoidance by multinationals through its implementation of the measures to counter base erosion and profit shifting (BEPS). You were also one of the first jurisdictions to ratify the Multilateral Instrument in March 2018 and to exchange Country-by-Country reports in 2017. This is truly remarkable, and sets a good example for other countries to follow.
Looking ahead, Slovenia should continue the reform path to raise living standards. Shocks and changing demands from abroad will never cease, and they will affect people’s jobs and lives. I am confident that by being a nimble reformer, Slovenia will successfully meet new challenges and benefit from new opportunities.
Ministers, Ladies and Gentlemen,
Today, we are again in the midst of a severe global crisis. The Coronavirus has derailed economies around the globe, and Slovenia has not been spared. The Slovenian Government reacted decisively to address the health crisis and has implemented bold fiscal measures to support jobs and incomes.
Just like 10 years ago, I am convinced that Slovenia will come out of this crisis better and stronger. As our 2020 Economic Survey of Slovenia – aptly being launched today – will show, a big part of your current challenge is to get back onto the pre-crisis growth path. More structural reforms will be needed to achieve this, and I can assure you that the OECD will continue to work with and for Slovenia to achieve more inclusive, more sustainable and greener growth.
Thank you for your time and attention.