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EU Ministers Back Slovenia’s Quest to Avoid Bailout

EU Ministers Pledge Backing for Slovenia Quest to Avoid Bailout
The European Commission has urged Slovenia to take "swift and decisive action" to tackle fiscal consolidation, financial-sector repairs and structural reforms to remove bottlenecks to growth in its economy. Photographer: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg

European finance ministers endorsed Slovenia’s quest to shore up its banks and avoid becoming the sixth euro-area country to seek a bailout.

Slovenian Finance Minister Uros Cufer told reporters in Vilnius, Lithuania, that his country has enough cash reserves to fix bank problems. A week ago, Slovenia liquidated two of its smaller banks, Probanka d.d. and Factor Banka d.d., in a move described by Central Bank Governor Bostjan Jazbec as a preemptive action to avoid the fate of Cyprus.

German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said Slovenia may not need aid if it can follow through with promised reforms.

“I think if they stay strictly on course -- and they’ve said that want to do that; they’ve supplied two small banks with capital over the weekend -- then they’ll manage without it,” Schaeuble said. “So as long as Slovenia itself says they can manage it, we should encourage them in that.”

The European Commission has urged Slovenia to take “swift and decisive action” to tackle fiscal consolidation, financial -sector repairs and structural reforms to remove bottlenecks to growth in its economy. European Union Economic and Monetary Affairs Commissioner Olli Rehn sought to reinforce Slovenia’s actions, speaking in Vilnius today at the start of two days of meetings of EU finance heads.

‘Strong Action’

“Slovenia has taken strong actions across both the banking sector and other areas,” Rehn said. “There is still more to be done concerning structural reforms, fiscal policy and to finalize their financial repair, but Slovenia is now moving in the right direction. We support the government in its actions.”

While taking action to close the smaller banks, including imposing some investor losses while also providing state aid, Prime Minister Alenka Bratusek’s government has delayed a fix of the bank industry originally planned for the end of June. The project has slowed due to a dispute with the EU over banks’ capital needs and the value of their bad assets, which are now being assessed.

“Slovenia is dealing with its banks and progress is being made,” said Dutch Finance Minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem, who chairs meetings of euro-area finance ministers, in Vilnius, today. “We will await the outcome of the asset quality review.”

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