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Business news in Slovenia

Construction in focus of Slovenian-Croatian business forum

Opatija, 27 March (STA) - Construction was in focus of a Slovenian-Croatian business forum, hosted by the newspapers Delo and Jutarnji List in Opatija on Wednesday. Infrastructure ministers Alenka Bratušek and Oleg Butković underlined the importance of the construction sector for their countries' development.

Bratušek said that Slovenia was very active in rail and road investments, "spending some EUR 300 million a year on rail infrastructure modernisation. The construction of a second rail track between Koper and Divača is in full swing, we are also building a new passenger centre in Ljubljana."

Moreover, a second investment cycle is being drafted, entailing the upgrade of existing tracks to cut train travel times, the establishment of high-frequency train schedules for the greater Ljubljana area and new tracks to improve the competitive edge of rail transport, said the minister.

She added that second tracks were planned for the Dolenjska, Kamnik and Gorenjska lines, as well as a new line to Ljubljana Airport. Moreover, passenger travel speeds are to increase as per EU standards to 160km/h on the main lines, 130km/h for regional trains and 120km/h for cargo trains.

But this will only be possible with a high-quality construction sector. "I'm happy that Slovenia's construction sector is proving to be in a good condition and of high quality. The rail viaducts on the second Koper-Divača track prove that we are returning to the level that made Slovenia's construction sector known far and wide in the past."

Stojan Petrič, the director of newspaper publisher Delo and the main owner of the conglomerate Kolektor, which includes one of the largest construction companies in Slovenia, also addressed the forum, saying that the sector was the fourth largest employer in the country.

"Last year, the sector employed 8.1% of all residents in active employment. Still, construction is among the sectors where labour shortage is severe," said Petrič.

Nearly one in two construction workers in Slovenia are foreign citizens, he said, adding that 85% of foreigners come from the countries of former Yugoslavia. "In the past 17 years, more than 100,000 workers came to Slovenia from that region."

Petrič is confident that Slovenian companies will be able to carry out all of the planned public investments in road, rail and sea port infrastructure, as well as buildings.

The event was also addressed by Butković and European Commissioner for Democracy and Demography Dubravka Šuica. The former said his country had managed to complete some demanding projects in the past years despite many challenges, among them the Pelješac bridge.

In the next decade, Croatia will focus on renovating, upgrading and constructing rail infrastructure, said Butković.

Meanwhile, Šuica said the construction sector was key in achieving shared objectives of sustainable development, economic competitiveness and social cohesion.

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