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Mr Janez Janša: The anti-corona package to stem the epidemic and mitigate its consequences includes a number of measures that will enable us to function normally as a society once the epidemic is over

At yesterday's regular session, the Government of the Republic of Slovenia adopted the text of the act proposal on the intervention measures to stem and mitigate the consequences of the SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) communicable disease epidemic for citizens and the economy. The act proposal was presented at today's press conference by Prime Minister Janez Janša, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Food Aleksandra Pivec, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Economic Development and Technology Zdravko Počivalšek, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defence Matej Tonin and Minister of Finance Andrej Šircelj.

Statement by the Prime Minister Janez Janša.

Statement by the Prime Minister Janez Janša. | Author Nebojša Tejić, STA

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At today's press conference, Prime Minister Janez Janša said that yesterday, the Government had adopted a mega legislative package to stem and mitigate the coronavirus epidemic totalling 3 billion euros. "There has never been anything like this before, either at a session of any Slovenian government or at any meeting of the National Assembly," Mr Janez Janša said, continuing: "The measures from this act will enter in force if the National Assembly approves the act and will apply from 1 April to 31 May this year, with the possibility of extending all or some of the measures envisaged until 30 June." He added that some the measures would also apply retroactively from the declaration of the epidemic on 13 March. "The package aims to save lives and health and preserve the important capacities of our country, such as the economy, public services, education, science, culture and others," stressed the Slovenian Prime Minister. He noted that the eligible costs arising from the tackling of the epidemic would be reimbursed to the municipalities from the budget. "During the last ten days, Slovenian municipalities have proven to be a better functioning part of the system, but, on the other hand, we unfortunately have a rather obsolete bureaucratic apparatus which is, in some parts, completely unfit to address the present situation and sometimes takes too long to coordinate and adopt certain administrative measures," Mr Janez Janša said. 

"This mega act includes a wide range of measures and addresses a number of areas to stem the epidemic and mitigate its effects. In fact, it covers everything that needs to be done to ensure that we as a society can function normally after the end of this epidemic," emphasised the Prime Minister.

He went on to say the act would freeze the payment of social and certain other contributions, without prejudice to people’s rights, as the contributions will be paid from the budget. The payment deadline for payments from the budget will be reduced to eight days. Partially untaxed remuneration will be available for those who work regularly during this time as well. It will provide additional remuneration up to double the ordinary amount for all those who are additionally exposed in the fight against the epidemic. The Prime Minister stressed that the act introduces a basic income and the write-off of obligations for the self-employed with effect from 13 March to 31 May this year, and a crisis allowance for pensioners, students, large families and for other socially disadvantaged people.

According to Mr Janez Janša, this act will freeze a number of other deadlines where services simply cannot be provided to citizens or where certain services cannot be provided by the competent authorities.

"The act gives the necessary authority to the Ministry of Education to regulate the school sphere in line with the new circumstances, and proposes that the police be vested with additional powers regarding the implementation of the Communicable Diseases Act," the Primer Minister said. According to him, the Government, in adopting this first mega package, has decided "no one shall be forgotten, and the issues that perhaps could not be covered by this first mega act for various reasons will be dealt with under the second package."

“If anyone finds a gap, in the sense that issues of others were addressed, but their issue was left out, there will be time and room to deal with it in the second package. The Government has already begun drafting the package, since, due to the sheer number and diversity of proposals it received, time limitations and administrative procedures, including those of the legislature, it had to decide on what was truly necessary to include in the first package and what could wait,” said the Prime Minister.

“Unfortunately, the optimistic and favourable signs shown last week regarding the respecting and following of certain restrictive measures changed towards the end of the week. Restrictions and medical recommendations were not followed and, as a result, certain stricter restrictive ordinances and measures will have to be taken,” explained Mr Janša and warned that the hardest times in the fight against the epidemic are yet to come. “In the upcoming weeks we will all be put to the test, particularly our responsibility and solidarity towards healthcare workers and coronavirus patients,” he said.  He spoke about an ordinance being considered at the moment at the Government’s meeting by correspondence with which movement will be partially restricted, “but this will be in vain if all of us do not comply with the restrictions, as those who do not comply are endangering those who do and, in the end, the innocent suffer the most. We must also show solidarity to the most vulnerable among us. The Government is making every effort to offer the most vulnerable groups protection through these measures and we will continue to increase these efforts.”

The Slovenian Prime Minister concluded by thanking all the volunteers, especially those who are helping the most vulnerable. “Thank you also for all the proposals we received on how to curb the epidemic and mitigate its effects. There were thousands of ideas and, as I already mentioned, some have already been included in the first package, while many others will be included in future measures,” said the Prime Minister. He went on to thank the advisory group and other experts who worked together with the Government in the preparation of the current, and future, measures. “I would like to sincerely thank everyone and anyone in Slovenia who is providing help where it is needed, who is doing their part in anonymity, and the people helping those who are most in need,” said Mr Janez Janša. 

He added that, in addition to having to overcome numerous unforeseeable obstacles over the past few days, the Government has also uncovered many capacities that it never knew existed. “What we have seen is the incredible readiness of so many people, hundreds of thousands, to help each other. Because of this, we are aware that we know more and can do more each day, and therefore we will be successful in the fight against this epidemic,” stressed Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Janša and wished everyone much health in these times.

Asked by journalists about the mandatory disinfection of multi-dwelling buildings, particularly about who will provide the disinfectants and who will cover these costs and how will the disinfection take place,  Mr Janša responded that the most important thing right now is that the disinfection is done, in order to stop people from getting infected and dying because of hospitals being overcrowded. “Supplies are still available, then the Civil Protection will help with theirs. The state budget will reimburse all justified costs incurred by municipalities and local communities in the fight against the epidemic. If funds will not be found elsewhere, they will be found in the state budget.”

The Prime Minister also answered questions about the increased powers of the police and in which cases will the police be able to temporarily limit the movement of people, set up road blocks, enter homes and obtain information about the location of communication devices. “I would first recommend that you read the article of the act on the increase of powers in its entirety, as it does not include powers to enter homes, while the police already has the power to set up road blocks,” responded Mr Janša, adding that these are additional powers in line with the Communicable Diseases Act. “Responding to the proposal to monitor the movements of those who are self-isolating, under the act proposal this would only be possible with their consent,” emphasised Janša Janša.

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