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Lucky Spin
31, Romania
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There is a Reason Companies Keep comming to Slovak
Feb 02, 2006

Insiders agree that the most important benefits of doing business in Slovakia are the low cost yet highly skilled labour force; a favourable 19-percent tax rate; and relatively low real estate prices with the added bonus of zero real estate transfer tax.

But that's not all foreign investors are taking advantage of. Additionally, Slovakia's high unemployment rate easily accommodates the need for labour, which is generated by significant foreign direct investments (FDI). And the strategic central location of Slovakia in Central Europe with gateways to both the developed economies of Western Europe and the awakening economy of Ukraine is another draw. Furthermore, Slovakia has a strong industrial background, a crucial feature for certain types of manufacturing.

So far, Slovakia has lured investments in manufacturing, the automotive sector, and call and service centres.

In contrast to the Far East, which has unbeatable production costs for low-margin, low-tech products, Slovakia is suited to engineering centres. The country's large number of skilled labourers, machinists and engineers as well as a strong tradition in machinery ensures that value-added products can be built at a reasonable price.

The availability of a skilled bilingual staff, the low cost of employment, tax incentives and ample quality office space has resulted in the development of call, outsourcing, administration and group service centres in Slovakia.

Steve Gawronski and Stanislav Rusinko are tax partner and FDI manager, respectively, from Deloitte. They say that Slovakia has managed to position itself favourably by building up a critical mass of companies in a specific sector, which attracts other foreign companies in the same sector. According to them, Slovakia's automotive and electronics industries are surging ahead because of this.

Clare Moger, senior tax manager, and Michaela Gábiková, tax consultant, both from PricewaterhouseCoopers, emphasize the corporate benefits of Slovakia's tax reforms. "In addition to the advantageous tax rate, dividends are not subject to Slovak tax. Corporate tax losses can be deducted without any significant limitations and tax-non-deductible items have been significantly reduced. Furthermore, there are thresholds for social insurance contributions in Slovakia, which is not the case in most European countries."

The PricewaterhouseCoopers experts say that all of this makes Slovakia a popular location for investors. "Nevertheless, each potential investor should take various aspects into consideration. As well as tax matters, investors should also consider labour costs and availability, potential suppliers, the proximity of potential markets to the planned investment, and transport links."

Mark Davidson, senior tax consultant with Ernst & Young, thinks Slovakia still has many investment and business opportunities left to exploit, compared with the more static and saturated markets in the EU-15. Davidson highlighted Slovakia as an investor-friendly business environment, mentioning the "the world's top reformer" status given to Slovakia by the World Bank in its "Doing Business in 2005 report".

Apart from business benefits available to all foreign investors coming to Slovakia, special state assistance packages are available. These include corporate tax credits for up to 10 years and grants for retraining employees or employing those registered as unemployed at local labour offices.

"The government may also help indirectly by providing funds to help obtain the desired plot and build the required infrastructure [electricity, gas or water connections]. In some cases, it may even be possible to negotiate the purchase or lease of a manufacturing site at a discount with a local municipality," added PricewaterhouseCoopers' Moger and Gábiková.

Mark Gibbins, tax partner, and Van Mumby, senior tax manager from KPMG Slovensko Advisory emphasized that investors have a greater chance of obtaining these incentives if their investments are located in areas of higher unemployment.

Experts emphasize that granting special state aid is at the discretion of the Slovak government, and in most cases the European Commission in Brussels must approve it. There is no automatic entitlement to state aid, even if the investor meets the prescribed conditions in the law.

Whether, and in what amount, state aid is granted usually depends on the amount and nature of the investment, its location and the number of new jobs it will create. Investments into facilities that use new technology, attract other investors to Slovakia, or create a large number of jobs in regions of high unemployment tend to be viewed favourably.

Analysts imply that in the future, Slovakia will cease its monopoly on business advantages when other countries step up - mainly Ukraine, the Balkan states and others. Additionally, as more FDI flows into Slovakia, state incentives for investors will likely decrease.

"Romania has introduced a 16-percent flat rate for corporate and income taxes and a 19-percent standard VAT rate effective January 1, 2005. It also has generally lower labour costs than in Slovakia. In the medium term, Slovakia should seek a greater diversification of investments and expand, if possible, knowledge-based investments rather than those that are manufacturing oriented," explained KPMG Slovensko's Gibbins and Mumby.

Davidson, from Ernst & Young, pointed out that the Far East, Romania and Bulgaria have had lower labour costs than Slovakia for a good while now and, in this respect, nothing has changed. He stressed that the key to Slovakia's future ability to attract investment cannot be solely cost-differentiation, but rather "cost plus x factor". This could be quality, technology, professional business culture, or, in the case of the tourist industry, natural beauty.

Deloitte's Gawronski and Rusinko added: "It should not be overlooked that foreign investors value economic and political stability as well as transparency in legislation and in legislative procedures as much as other advantages. Certain investors remain unsure how certain areas of Slovak law will pan out, and how steps in the investment process are administered. "This is where Slovakia should focus if it wishes to join the more 'developed' countries in Europe."

Moger and Gábiková from PricewaterhouseCoopers think Slovakia should continue to set the pace in making reforms and stay flexible enough to respond quickly to potential changes in the business environment. "Hopefully, Slovakia will also become a country that makes more outward investments, not simply a place in which foreign investments are made. If so, it could potentially benefit from the economic boom in countries with lower production costs and those offering attractive location benefits for foreign investors."

Davidson from Ernst & Young agrees: "Slovakia offers three key benefits: EU membership, an investor-friendly environment, particularly with regard to taxation, and a skilled and highly educated workforce at very reasonable rates. Slovakia has to capitalize on these current competitive advantages by attracting as much investment as it can now, prior to any proposed EU-wide tax harmonisation and further EU enlargement. It must also continue to invest in education, particularly IT literacy," he said.

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slovak girls
Jul 11, 2007


A story about slovakian girls
On my first night in Bratislava, Slovak Republic, while I was waiting for the first Monica, who was going to pick me up in front of my hotel at 9 o'clock, two young Italians stopped to ask me if I could suggest a place where they could have some fun that night in Slovakia.
Before I had the chance to hide behind my usual "I don't speak Italian" (spoken in English, of course), they went on to say, "You can't get any slovak girls here. We arrived yesterday and we're leaving tomorrow. The taxi driver refused to help us find some girls and the female receptionist at the hotel wanted to throw us out when we asked her where we could get some women. The Slovak Republic where taxi drivers and receptionists can't understand the tourist is underdeveloped. We're going back to Thailand!"
Marco and Sandro come from the small Italian... more

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Success Stories
Girls in Bratislava

by Steve

True to God's blueprint for Eastern Europe, the girls in Bratislava have to be seen to be believed. They dress to turn heads, and probably would even if they wore shiny tracksuits salvaged from the eighties. Fortunately, short skirts, tight trousers and skimpy tops are more the order of the day.

The Slovakian capital, with its relaxed vibe, narrow streets and pavement bars, is made for drinking, drooling, and generally watching the world go by. Go somewhere else for serious conversation, which will be frequently derailed by passing lovelies causing eyes and minds to wander.

By night, Slovakian girls are not only heartbreakingly beautiful, they also love to party, and often prowl the bars and clubs of Bratislava in large groups. They love to practice their English, to chat and to be chatted up, but you will have to play your cards carefully to get anything more than an innocent peck on the cheek. You wouldn't be the first to mistake the innocent charm of Slovakian girls for something more.

After a weekend in Bratislava, you will believe in love at first sight.


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