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An International Training at ICPE

As mentioned in my last blog on Slovenia, we arrived in Ljubljana airport on 16th May, 2010 as part of an international training programme on Budgeting, Accounting and Financial Management in Government Sector at International Centre for Promotion of Enterprises (ICPE). Mr Gašper Koprivšek, Project Manager of ICPE was waiting for us at the airport.

The training was a three week programme of National Institute of Financial Management (NIFM), Faridabad, India. Two weeks were covered in the NIFM and one week in ICPE. During the part of the training programme at NIFM, His Eminence the Ambassador of Slovenia to India Janez Premože has visited NIFM and provided us a picturesque as well as highly informative narration of Slovenia and its people. 

ICPE is a UN sponsored Intergovernmental Organization with member countries from Latin America, Asia, Africa and Europe. ICPE facilitates transfer of technology, sustainable entrepreneurship, and promotion of knowledge based social change through research training and consultancy.

ICPE is situated at a 30 minutes walk from the City Centre of Ljubljana. Ideally befitting to the natural glory of Slovenia, you will find ICPE amidst enchanting greenery.

The training formally commenced in the morning of 17th May, 2010 with the welcome address of Dr Štefan Bogdan Šalej, Director General of ICPE. It was followed by a talk on EU Policy and Institutions by Ms. Janez Slabe, from the Cabinet of the Minister for Agriculture, Forestry and Food, Slovenia. Mr. Surindor K Datta, First Secretary of the the Embassy of India in Slovenia has provided an over view of economical, educational and cultural relations between India and Slovenia. Subsequently Dr.Anton Vratuša, founder and Honorary President of the ICPE Council has delivered a very informative talk. Mr. Brane Krajnik of the Slovenia Times provided a brief overview of Slovenia.

There were very informative and engaging lectures during the programme. All the lecturers were eminent practitioners from the related areas. The lecturers included Ms. Branka Skrt, who started her career in Slovenian Customs Administration and then appointed to the Slovenian Permanent Representation to EU. She chaired the Trade Policy Committee during the Slovenian presidency in EU. Ddr Neven Borak, who is a lecturer at the School of Business and Management in Novo mestor and Faculty of Economics and Business at the University of Maribor. He is also a visiting professor at the University of Ljubljana. Ddr Neven Borak is also a former Director of the Slovenian Security Market Agency and current advisor to the chairman of Slovenian national bank. Mr. Anton Rop, an economist and former Prime Minister of Slovenia (2002-2004) and the Minister for Finance (2000-2002). Dr. Andrej Horvat an Economist and State Secretary in the cabinet of the Slovenian Prime Minister. He was also a State Secretary and acting Minister of Development under the previous Government of Slovenia.

The lectures covered very important topics like EU Trade Policy , "Crisis - A brief historical overview" "National Assembly - National Budget (of Slovenia)" and "Cohesion Policy" There was also a presentation on the "Centre of Excellence in Finance" which is an institution of the Ministry of Finance.

Visit to important institutions

Visits to some important government institutions during the training programme were very much informative as well as interesting. It provided tremendous opportunity to the participants to engage in very lively discussions with important Slovenian authorities. In fact, those were ideal venues for sharing knowledge and experience in a most friendly environment. We have visited the following institutions during the training.

DURS (Tax Office of the Republic of Slovenia)

At DURS the top executives have warmly greeted the participants and presented the organization structure and functioning of DURS and the tax administration in Slovenia. The Tax Administration of the Republic of Slovenia is a constituent part of the Ministry of Finance. The Tax Administration has General Tax Office and tax offices. Tax offices are organisation units of the Tax Administration, which are established for performing specific tax services. Branches and offices for individuals are territorial organisation units of tax offices.

Some of the major functions of the Tax Administration are collection of taxes and other obligatory duties; supervision over legality, regularity and timeliness of meeting of tax obligations, prevention and discovering of tax offences and other cases of criminal conduct, forcible collection of pecuniary claims of the state and self-governing local communities on the basis of the act, co-operation and exchange of data with Community's bodies, competent bodies of EU Member States and with competent bodies of other states; co-operation with international organisations and professional associations from the field of taxes; examination and analysis of tax system's operations and tax policy's measures etc

Since a good number of participants are drawn from Indian Revenue Service, the discussions at DURS has become very lively and productive.

The Bank of Slovenia

At the Bank of Slovenia the team led by the Vice Governor has explained to us the organization and functions of the Bank as well as the important aspects of financial management at EU level.

The Bank of Slovenia is the Central bank of the Republic of Slovenia and Member of the Eurosystem. The Bank was established on 25 June 1991 by the adoption of the Bank of Slovenia Act (BoSA). The Bank of Slovenia and the members of its decision-making bodies are independent and are not bound to any instructions of state agencies or any other bodies. The European Central Bank (ECB) and national central banks of those EU Member States that have adopted the euro are referred to as the Eurosystem. Since 1 January 1999 the Eurosystem has been responsible for defining and implementing the euro area's single monetary policy. The Bank of Slovenia became a part of the Eurosystem on 1 January 2007, the day euro was introduced as the currency of the Republic of Slovenia .

The important tasks of the Bank of Slovenia include:
  • Implements the common monetary policy,
  • Co-manages the official foreign reserves of the Member States in accordance with the Treaty on establishing the European Community, and
  • Promotes the smooth operation of payment systems.
The Court of Audit of the Republic of Slovenia

At the Court of Audit, Mr. Zoran Mladenovič, Deputy President  has made a very informative presentation about the Court of Audit. The Deputy President, who is very friendly, has encouraged participants to ask queries as the presentation progressed. Thus it has become a very creative venue for interaction.

The Court of Audit of the Republic of Slovenia is the highest body for supervising state accounts, the state budget and all public spending in Slovenia. The Constitution further provides that the Court of Audit is independent in the performance of its duties and bound by the Constitution and law. The Court of Audit Act also defines that the acts with which Court of Audit exercises its powers of audit cannot be challenged before the courts or other state bodies.

The Court of Audit of the Republic of Slovenia has three members: a president and two deputy presidents. They are appointed for a term of nine years on a proposal from the President of the Republic by the National Assembly by majority vote of all the deputies in a secret ballot. n addition to the Members the Court of Audit also has a maximum of six Supreme State Auditors, who head the audit departments and Secretary of the Court of Audit , who head the support services. They all have the status of public officials. They are appointed by the President of the Court of Audit for a term of nine years. The Court of Audit is represented and headed by its President, who simultaneously holds the office of State Auditor-general.

Nova Ljubljanska Banka (NLB)


At NLB top Executives from three different departments have welcomed us and presented the various functions of NLB.

Nova Ljubljanska Banka was established by legislative Act of the National Assembly of the Republic of Slovenia on 27 July 1994. Now The NLB Group with 12 banks, 11 leasing companies, 12 companies for international trade financing (factoring, forfeiting, export financing), 5 insurance companies, company in asset management and 14 other companies is being ranked  among the best graded banks in Middle and East Europe by the International rating agencies.


Ministry of Finance, Republic of Slovenia


At the Ministry of Finance we were welcomed by both Political as well as Civil Service leadership. The presentations have focused on both the National Level and EU level monetary policies as well as other aspects of financial management including budgeting.

The Ministry of Finance, Slovenia  is entrusted with the tasks in the  areas of the monetary, banking and foreign exchange systems, financial relationships with foreign countries, the system of taxes, contributions, duties, customs-duties and other types of public income; the systems of insurance, securities, funds and other financial organisations, the system of gaming activities, the public expenditure system and the budget, including public procurement and the system of accountancy, auditing and financial operation. It also carries out joint tasks of Slovenia's administrative bodies and governmental services in conducting financial and accountancy services.

Opportunity to know Slovenia, Italy and Austria


In addition to the intense training programme activities, ICPE has provided us opportunity to see Slovenian, Italian and Austrian sights of immense cultural, historical and natural importance. 


In Slovenia, as I have written in the previous blog, we toured in and around the city centre of Ljubljana, the Postojna Cave etc. Slovenia, an evergreen beauty in the Central Europe, is a developed country with prominence to Service Economy. Highly educated and hardworking population of Slovenia increasingly contributes to the growth of their economy. Industry (manufacturing) is the second largest sector.

In Italy we have visited Venice. Venice has been known as the ""Queen of the Adriatic", "City of Water", "City of Masks", "City of Bridges", "The Floating City", and "City of Canals" - all these are indicative of what Venice is. I am planning to write a separate blog on Venice. Therefore not much details is included in this blog.


In Austria, we have visited Vienna, the capital and one of the nine states in Austria. In 2001, the city centre was designated a UNESCO World Heritage. Vienna is located in north-eastern Austria, at the easternmost extension of the Alps in the Vienna Basin. As in the case of Venice, I will write a separate blog on Vienna also. Therefore not much is included here.


Very Comfortable Stay


ICPE has a hostel with state-of-the-art facilities. Since renovation works were in progress, they have arranged our accommodation at Austria Trend Hotel, Ljubljana. It is a very clean, calm and comfortable hotel. Backdrop of Alps would make your stay very romantic also.


Very friendly and effective coordination and support provided by Mr Gašper Koprivšek, Project Manager and Mr Rok Kogej, Intern of ICPE for the successful completion of all the training activities including office visits and sight seeing tours deserve special mention here.


Return


We got ready by 10AM on 23rd May, 2010 to leave  Slovenia and taking home invaluable experience of  learning, knowledge sharing and everlasting memories of friendship and images of enchanting natural beauty of Slovenia and other places we have visited during the one week stay. Though it was a Sunday, Dr Štefan Bogdan Šalej, Director General of ICPE was kind and caring enough to come to the Hotel to see off us. ICPE has arranged our transport from the hotel to Ljubljana Airport. The DG has also sent a staff member with us to the airport.




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