By Zoran Radosavljevic
LJUBLJANA (Reuters) - Slovenia's prime minister-designate promised on Thursday she would be able to heal its banks and avoid an international bailout after a banking crisis that dethroned her conservative predecessor just a year into office.
Legislators dismissed Janez Jansa's cabinet on Wednesday night and handed the baton to Alenka Bratusek, a centre-left finance expert tasked with preventing the fourth financial rescue of a euro zone member country since 2008.
"Considering that Slovenia is still under the EU average in terms of public debt, I still believe that with the steps we will take Slovenia will solve the position of its public finances on its own," Bratusek, leader of Positive Slovenia, told Reuters in an interview on Thursday.
Slovenia's public debt is well below the EU-tolerated ceiling of 60 percent of GDP, at 46.9 percent at the end of 2011, but its banks are heaving under 7 billion euros of bad loans, equivalent to 20 percent of GDP.
Jansa stepped down after failing to navigate through the former Yugoslav republic's worst economic and political crisis in 22 years of independence.
A member of the EU since 2004, the country of 2 million people has gone from economic trailblazer for the rest of eastern Europe when it joined the euro zone in 2007 to the latest ailing member of the 17-nation currency bloc.
With unemployment at a 14-year high and banks strangled by bad loans, speculation is rife that without urgent reform Slovenia may be unable to find affordable financing and repay some 2 billion euros of outstanding debt due in mid-2013.
Bratusek said her actions should appease investors.
"Considering that our program envisages agreement on three key things: overhaul of banks, consolidation of public finances in a way that will not curb growth, and better management of state assets, I believe we will reassure the financial markets," she said.
Parliament will probably vote in late March on Bratusek's proposed cabinet, which will also comprise the Social Democrats and two of Jansa's former allies.
If confirmed, she will be Slovenia's first female premier and could remain at the helm until an election due in 2015.
(Reporting by Zoran Radosavljevic; editing by Patrick Graham)
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