Taking a closer look at the Government’s priorities for the recovery of the economy

Voditelji koalicijskih strank in Aleksandra Pivec, nekdanja predsednica DeSUS (Foto: STA)

We took a closer look at the work that Janša’s Government has done so far. After the first two months of operating, we checked which plans the Government had prioritized and intends to implement before the end of the year. Its main task is certainly the economic recovery of the country, following the epidemic of the novel coronavirus. We, therefore, checked the main priorities of the governing coalition for the current year and checked which measures in the financial, economic, infrastructural, social, and other areas are still being prepared by the Government, in order to help Slovenia overcome the crisis caused by the novel coronavirus epidemic and help the country be able to breathe again.

The Government Communication Office informed us that Slovenia is expected to be among the countries that will make a faster economic recovery after the epidemic, as public finances are stable, and the banks are liquid. “In order to get out of the crisis and bring public finance under fiscal rule again, as soon as possible, it is essential to transform the Slovenian economy and give it a higher added value, lessen the amount of bureaucracy and remove the administrative barriers.”

According to the Communication Office, the Ministry of Finance is planning to prepare a supplementary budget and further implementation of the coalition agreement. In mid-March, the Minister of Finance, Andrej Šircelj, announced a supplementary budget, due to the changed situation, the creation of new obligations for the state budget, and a change in the economic trends, created by the COVID-19 epidemic. Due to the preparation of the supplementary budget, the Ministry temporarily suspended the implementation of the budget for all direct budget users.

The Ministry of Economic Development and Technology has prepared the COVID-19 Financial Incentive Programme, which presents the basis for the preparation of concrete measures to mitigate the effects of the epidemic. The Ministry has also done everything necessary for the Republic of Slovenia to declare COVID-19 state aid schemes to the European Commission. “With the programme, we are trying to ensure liquidity or smooth operating of the economy and transformation into new business models and investments. With the publication plan in May and June 2020, we are preparing new, non-repayable measures to finance the working capital, promote new, improved development projects and production and service facilities with the intention of restarting and developing the companies which have been affected by the epidemic.”

The Government is also preparing new liquidity measures in the estimated amount of 33.8 million euros in grants intended for small and medium-sized businesses for:

  • Reimbursement of costs for protective equipment – 10 million euros (to be published this month);
  • reimbursement of costs for the field of internationalization – 0,8 million euros;
  • incentives for launching development projects – 5 million euros;
  • liquidity in the field of tourism and hospitality – 13 million euros;
  • production in problem areas – 3 million euros.

New loans from the European funds (mainly microcredits) in the amount of at least 80 million euros will presumably be placed on the market with the SID Bank this summer, the Ministry of Economic Development and Technology announced. They also seek to provide all necessary additional financial resources (national and European), which would enable the implementation of the full package of repayable and non-repayable financial incentives for the economy. Looking ahead, they are working to provide additional funding for the field of digitalization.

For the launch of the infrastructure and other projects
The Ministry of Infrastructure will work to encourage investors and builders to continue investing. “Investments must continue to an even greater extent, with even greater momentum than before. Namely, construction is an industry that can accelerate economic growth with its multiplicative effects. These are the projects, such as HPP Mokrice, The Third Development Axis, and the Cirkovce-Pince power line.”

The Ministry of the Environment and Spatial Planning will pay more attention to the projects that will enable balanced protection of the environment with simultaneous development. They will prepare or support those legal arrangements which, in the interest of nature conservation, will allow development within the framework of clearly formed criteria that promote a comprehensive and professional level of cooperation. According to the Ministry, the projects will pursue the goals of de-bureaucratization, simplification of procedures, faster placement into the area, and efficient waste management (circular economy). The construction industry is one of those industries that, with its multiplicative effect, will make an important contribution to the recovery of the economy. Last week, the European Commission “announced a recession of historical proportions for the European economy.”

Some of the priority tasks of the Ministry of Environment and Spatial Planning for this year are:

  1. As part of the third anti-corona legislative package, the Ministry will prepare an intervention law to speed-up the preparation and implementation of investments and, thus, the start-up of construction.
  2. Under the 2014-2020 financial perspective, the tasks of the cohesion policies of 2014-2020 will be completed.
  3. The Ministry is preparing legislative amendments which will harmonize the Slovenian legal order with the European one, and at the same time, will pursue the goals of de-bureaucratization, more efficient procedures, development, and environmental protection.
  4. The amendment of the Regulation on Environmental Interventions, for which an environmental impact assessment is required, will make an important contribution towards easing the administrative burden of those responsible for environmental interventions, which, by their nature, cannot have a significant environmental impact.
  5. Waste management is also among the urgent matters being resolved by the Ministry. An amendment to the rules of waste regulation will be prepared by the end of June.

Challenges in the field of work and social affairs
Many challenges also await in the labour market, the Ministry of Labour, Family and Social Affairs announced. With the measures already implemented, they are striving to keep as many jobs as possible. Subsidizing waiting for work will be upgraded in the coming months. In dialogue with the social partners, they want to re-evaluate or review the current regulation of work at home in light of the experience during the pandemic, in terms of strengthening the balancing of family and professional life. The key activities at this time are still related to the active monitoring of the situation in nursing homes. The protection of the elderly will remain an important focal point of their work, even after the pandemic ends.

“Our goal for this year is to initiate the procedures for the earliest possible ensuring of additional capacities in the nursing homes, which should be ensured by granting concessions and intensive drawing of European funds. The latter relate to projects related to the provision of additional capacities for day care and de-institutionalization, which would consequently free up places in nursing homes and, at the same time, provide additional jobs.” According to the Ministry, the key concern remains the preservation or improvement of the socio-economic situation of the elderly, which they have already tried to ensure by paying a solidarity allowance to all retirees, during the epidemic.

The work of the Ministry of Labour, Family and Social Affairs, will also be aimed at de-bureaucratizing the system of exercising the rights from public funds, with the aim of making the system more transparent, simple, and user-friendly. “They are also continuing to provide activities to ensure content and capacities for vulnerable groups in need. These groups also include many of the recipients of the solidarity allowance, which was paid during the time of the epidemic, which has further contributed to their inclusion, which remains a lasting goal.”

Metod Berlec