Slovenia’s government yesterday decided to privatise incumbent operator Telekom Slovenije and 14 other firms, as part of a plan to address a budget shortfall and avoid an international debt bailout procedure, alongside other measures including raising value added tax (VAT). Finance minister Uros Cufer announced the list of companies earmarked for sale, which also includes bank Nova Kreditna Banka Maribor (NKBM) and airline Adria Airways. ‘Corporate debt levels are presently steep and weigh down on Slovenian banks,’ Mr. Cufer said, quoted by Dow Jones Newswires, adding that the government will also need about EUR3 billion (USD3.94 billion) annually in new debt issuance to manage its finances. Due to the state’s ownership of three major banks, which account for the lion’s share of the banking sector – and also own stakes in other sectors – government-backed enterprises account for approximately 60% of Slovenia’s economy. Prime Minister Alenka Bratusek said that the government will submit its reform package to the European Commission today. Meanwhile, the dual VAT rates will rise from 8.5% to 9.5% and from 20% to 22% on 1 July under the most recent decision of the government, which stated that the existing levels are below the EU average.