Business Alliance of Slovakia (BAS) is a professional association representing selected entrepreneurs and employers operating throughout Slovakia. It is established on principles of ethics, transparency, consistency, solidarity and legitimacy in business.
The main objective of BAS is the improvement of formal and informal business environment rules in Slovakia within the broader context of society development.
BAS was founded in on November 15th, 2001, by the Centre for Economic Development and the Institute for Economic and Social Reforms (INEKO). Unique merger of profit and non-profit sector guaranteed that intellectual capacities of the non-governmental organisations together with practical experiences of business sector will be used to achieve the goals.
The main feature of BAS activities is that they do not follow individual interests of businesses or branches, but interests of the business sector as a whole. The principle of public goods‘ administration is fully pursued in the implemented activities. The aim is to improve the conditions of doing business for all who operate on the market.
The Alliance has a two-tier structure. The Policy Board (PB), which belongs to the first tier, defines the strategic orientation of PAS. The Board is led by the President and Vice-presidents of PAS, which are elected from PB members for a period of two year. PR members elect Executive Director and the Board of BAS members, which manage and coordinate all activities of PAS.
The second level of PAS is represented by its Panel. Panel is constituted by all members of PAS. It is open to anyone interested in taking part on PAS´s activities and meeting prescribed criteria. Members of the Panel are entitled to take part on events organized by PAS and use its products free of charge. Members of the Panel have the right to join the Policy Board subject to the fulfilment of defined criteria. This ensures that future strategic decision making will not be limited to only those entities that were involved at time of PAS´s inception.
What values are recognized by the Alliance?
The Alliance is based on five pillars – ethics, transparency, consistency, solidarity and the rule of law.
Ethics in business means that a company is making great effort to operate as a respectable player in a market. If a company closes a contract with a partner, it will observe it. If there is any chance to break the contract and cheat the partner, the company will not take advantage of the opportunity and misuse it despite knowing that it would not be disclosed. The company will not cheat the partner because the company itself would feel apprehended to do so. A fair approach and integrity are simply the basic, fundamental values for the company. Managers run the company in such way that brings value for the investors, customers, public and ultimately the whole external environment in which the company operates.
Transparency evidences the fact that a company has nothing to hide from the public. Of course, no company would disclose its business policy or detailed strategic vision because its future prosperity in the competitive environment is based on them. But a company does not hesitate to make public its economic results, publish annual reports and answer questions of journalists. Its shareholders or its stakes in other companies should be no secret. The company expects to see the same transparency on part of its partners and it wants to get detailed information from the State on its decisions.
Consistency means that a company recognizes specific internal values. It acts according to its own principles. The company refuses to abandon them in spite of the different behaviour of surrounding entities. Although the company operates in an environment where corruption is prevailing, it rather suffers a financial loss then to succumb to external pressure. Employees of the company are asked to observe the internal rules, too. The company tries to disseminate the principles among both its business partners and state institutions. It expects politicians to convert their promises, based on the same principles as those recognized by the company, into reality.
Solidarity forces a company to help entities which are unable to help themselves. A part of the company’s earned money is spent by it on charity. This type of approach is not a marketing instrument, but the result of a sincere effort to help weaker entities.
The rule of law is needed by both entrepreneurs and the State. There have to be clear rules guaranteed by the State. If the rules are not observed by entrepreneurs, the whole society suffers. Entities violating the rules have to bear the responsibility. The State is obliged to create explicit regulations and to ensure law enforcement through particular institutions. If the State wants the rule of law to be respected by companies, it must observe laws as well. Sound and stable legal norms that can be reliably and operatively used in litigations, if any, are an imperative.
Why was the Alliance established?
In countries like Slovakia, the setting and improvement of formal rules is regulated by the principles of parliamentary democracy. The majority in a parliament makes decisions on legal norms. Because of recurring four-year electoral periods the goals of governmental politicians are often differ from the interests of economically active entities creating the country’s wealth. The ambition of the Alliance is to influence subjects of key importance in such way that they adopt outright, applicable and stable legal norms. The Alliance wants regulatory institutions to perform effectively in the country and governments to follow a generally accepted vision overreaching four-year electoral terms.
The companies‘ representatives understand that the economic growth and the quality of life is directly determined also by the existence and further enhancement of informal rules in a society. Economic theory addresses the issue of public goods. The cleanness of a common stairway in a tenant house could be a good example for illustrating this issue. Every tenant wants to have clean stairs, but on the other hand, everybody expects somebody else to be responsible for keeping them clean. Although the rational approach would be to leave this duty to somebody else, more appropriate for the whole society is the opposite approach. The stairway will be clean if somebody begins to clean it. Societies in which there is a critical mass or group of individuals ready to assume the responsibility for public goods, experience significant improvement in the quality of public goods. The ultimate goal of the Alliance is that the principles of social morality are adopted by as many economically active entities as possible.
What does the Alliance want to do for Slovakia?
The Alliance as an apolitical association intends to operate in Slovakia on a long-term basis, independent of the political situation in the country and the international position of Slovakia. The Alliance adjusts its activities to the needs of the whole society but at the same time the activities are always geared towards the fulfilment of the core goal of the Alliance.
Improvement of the business environment, the main goal carried by the Alliance, is not a mere matter of prestige. The Alliance underscores that a business-friendly environment is an imperative for boosting economic activities and thus the growth of prosperity of the country. At the same time, the Alliance is aware that along with the new laws and other regulatory measures the inner approach of entrepreneurs must change as well.
To separate the enforcement of written laws of high quality from the enforcement of commonly recognized rules in a society is impossible. The experiences of many renowned Slovak lawyers confirm that laws on their own are unable to ensure improvement of the business environment. If a dishonest entrepreneur decides to cheat his business partner, he will always find a way to do it without violating any particular law. If the inner motives of an entrepreneur remain unchanged and if he has no problems with his own unethical behaviour, the introduction of stricter legal norms itself will change nothing. Although high quality laws are an inevitable prerequisite for the creation of a favourable business environment, the attitude of free market participants plays an equally, if not more important role. If an entrepreneur decides not to break or misuse laws but strives to be honest, fair and transparent, it will give him a good feeling inside as well as bring an economic effect. The aim of the Alliance is to maximize the number of such entrepreneurs in Slovakia.
It is not by coincidence that the most prosperous countries in the world are those with the most developed business environments. The effort of the Alliance should not be seen only as a matter of business prestige – it wishes the citizens of this central European country a better life.