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INTERVIEW-Limited impact on Slovenia economy from migrants - prime minister

Wed 2nd December, 2015 5:00am
By Daniel Bases 
    NEW YORK, Dec 1 (Reuters) - Waves of migrants moving through 
Slovenia on their way toward Germany and Austria are causing 
only a limited negative impact on its economy, Prime Minister 
Miro Cerar said on Tuesday. 
    Cerar, in the United States to establish partnerships with 
top information and communication technology (ICT) companies, 
said Slovenia's economic outlook is stable but at risk if Europe 
does not address its largest mass migration since World War Two. 
    "We hope this will be settled somehow soon because so far 
our economy was not affected, just to a little degree. If this 
continues, of course it can have some bad effects, not only just 
on Slovenia's economy, but on the European Union's economy too," 
Cerar said. 
    Since mid-October roughly 280,000 migrants passed through 
Slovenia, Cerar said, as they flee war in Syria and Afghanistan. 
    Slovenia's economy grew 2.5 percent year-on-year in the 
third quarter and analysts expect it to fall short of the 
government's 2015 gross domestic product (GDP) target of 2.7 
percent. 
    "Our growth will be a bit lower at the beginning of next 
year," Cerar said, explaining that new European Union funding 
would not arrive until the third quarter of 2016. 
    "For that reason we will have lower growth in the next year 
because we will not be able to use all these funds for 
investments," he said, adding the target for 2016 is 2.3 percent 
GDP growth. 
    Cerar said Slovenia will meet EU rules with a budget deficit 
below 3 percent of GDP by year-end and he does not expect the 
state to have to give more capital to the once ailing banking 
sector. 
    Privatizing the state-owned telephone company, Telekom 
Slovenija  TLKM.LJ , having failed to sell it in August, could 
be more than a year away. 
    Cerar said the joint bid for Serbia's state-owned telephone 
company by Telekom Slovenija and U.S. private equity fund 
Apollo, was meant to make the Slovenian entity stronger "and in 
a few years might be much better to sell, because it is not in 
good shape." 
    "With this cooperation (with Apollo) and if they buy Serbia 
Telecom (Telekom Srbija), they might become a very big player in 
this area and this might be good for Telekom (Slovenija) in a 
year or two," Cerar said. 
    On Tuesday in New York, Cerar signed a memorandum of 
understanding (MOU) with technology services company IBM Corp. 
    He expects similar MOUs with Cisco Systems  CSCO.O  , EMC, 
Microsoft  MSFT.O   and Oracle to create a platform, with these 
U.S. companies, to help advance Slovenia's digital economy.    
 
 (Reporting By Daniel Bases; Editing By Robert Birsel) 
 ((daniel.bases@thomsonreuters.com; +1 646 223 6131; Reuters 
Messaging: daniel.bases.reuters.com@reuters.net; Twitter: 
@djbases)) 
 
Keywords: SLOVENIA ECONOMY/PRIMEMINISTER
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