Prime Minister Janez Janša answers parliamentary questions
- Former Prime Minister Janez Janša (2020 - 2022)
At today's session of the National Assembly, Prime Minister Janez Janša answered deputies’ questions. Questions concerning the health system and waiting times were addressed by Andrej Rajh (SAB – Party of Alenka Bratušek), and Lidija Divjak Mirnik (LMŠ – List of Marjan Šarec), Zmago Jelinčič (SMS – Slovenian National Party) asked about the status of immigrants from third countries and their eligibility for social transfers, and Jurij Lep (DeSUS - Democratic Party of Pensioners of Slovenia) asked about measures concerning the status of pensioners. Mr Lep asked the Prime Minister to explain in what phase the Government's preparation of the Long-Term Care Act is, what is happening with the legislation on the Demographic Fund, and what the timeline for the adoption of these acts is.
In response to Mr Rajh's question Prime Minister Janez Janša pointed out that the COVID-19 pandemic has produced many consequences throughout the world, including the suspension of many normal activities in health systems; this has been the case in countries that are significantly wealthier than Slovenia and have more developed health systems and wider reserves. "In Slovenia, this situation lasted for a relatively short time compared to other European countries; we were among the first to declare the end of the epidemic and to bring things back to full operation in the health system," said the Prime Minister, adding that the few months in the healthcare sector caused a standstill and had irreversible consequences. "To be honest, that is what we fear most in the coming weeks and months, and that something like this may happen again during the cold period if the measures applied throughout Europe, including Slovenia, are not strictly followed. The first under attack will be the health-care sector, which will again have to reduce its activities due to the increased need to deal with COVID-19 patients," stressed the Prime Minister. He added that statements that the government had not allocated additional financial resources to the health sector are incorrect. "The health sector has been allocated more than 210 million euros from the budget, additional funds are foreseen in the budget revision, and the fifth anti-corona package, which will be on your tables in the next few days, will propose certain measures allowing for additional capacities to be mobilised in Slovenia’s healthcare sector, so as to prevent the repetition of the situation that we experienced in spring. The money will also be used to reduce waiting periods," said the Prime Minister, adding that, "if we are successful and the second wave is not as severe as the first one in terms of consequences and bed occupancy rates, we will retroactively set things right and begin to shorten waiting periods regardless of the COVID situation."
“We will do everything to ensure that the situation we had in the spring does not happen again, but this is largely up to all of us. If we succeed in containing and limiting the spread of the virus, the pressure on the health system will be manageable; if we do not, it will be unmanageable," stressed the Prime Minister and added that there will be sufficient funding available. "Problems identified in the health system lie elsewhere. The problem is the organisation of healthcare and the volume of capacities available to healthcare, because if you lack staff, you can have lots of money, and still have patients that wait interminably," said the Prime Minister. A question about waiting periods in healthcare due to the COVID-19 situation was also addressed to the Prime Minister by Lidija Divjak Mirnik (LMŠ). The Prime Minister pointed out that, "the issue of waiting times in healthcare may only be fully understood if we ask ourselves whether we know how long it takes to get a new medical doctor. Six years of study and six years of specialisation. If anyone in this room knows how to cut this to four months, tell me how to do it, and they will be eligible for the Nobel Prize. The lack of staff in healthcare cannot be filled in 4 months," pointed out Prime Minister Janez Janša and reminded listeners that during this very time several hundred people had left Slovenia’s health system, both doctors and nurses. However, the problem of waiting times also has an organisational aspect and we have done a lot in this regard. For the coming autumn an operational plan has been drawn up for all health facilities; in the spring, we did not have any. Now every hospital knows what to do, where the reserves are." However, since there are no significant additional facilities, and hospitals cannot be built in four months, these reserves are relatively limited. If the current trend continues, the waiting periods will again begin to rise in October at the latest," said the Prime Minister, who also pointed out that COVID-19 is a problem, not only because of its direct consequences but also because of indirect ones. "It is thus in our common interest to do everything we can to ensure that the capacities of the healthcare system are not overstretched, so let us encourage people to download the application #StayHealthy, discourage large gatherings in dangerous situations, and refrain from playing political games with the health system,” stressed the Prime Minister. He concluded that, “we are in a situation where we try not to extend waiting periods beyond what is necessary; waiting periods were extended because some health programmes had to be suspended during the coronavirus epidemic.”
Prime Minister Janez Janša also answered a question from Zmago Jelinčič (SNS) concerning the abuse of social transfers by persons from third countries. According to the Prime Minister, Slovenian regulations are as they are, that is full of holes. "The coalition has provided for a reform of social transfers in the coalition agreement, and we are working on it, but for understandable reasons this is not a priority,” stressed the Prime Minister and said that it was beyond his understanding how it is possible for anyone working in an administrative unit, who has access to information on the number of people residing at any single address, and sees that there are 100 persons registered there, to turn a blind eye and allow the 101st person to register at the same place. He also pointed out the issue of children with the same place of residence, who do not attend school. " If a child of compulsory school age does not attend school, this usually means that there is no child,” said the Prime Minister, who agreed that there may be some exceptions, but not so many as to account for several hundred children who are supposed to have a place of residence in Slovenia but are not attending school. “The competent ministry will have to carry out additional checks and find out why these regulations are being violated,” stressed the Prime Minister, adding that this is not exclusively social network exploitation, but also exploitation of these people.
Prime Minister Janez Janša then answered a question from Mr Jurij Lep (DeSUS) on pensions and the Demographic Fund. "This Government does not consider pensions as a social transfer, but as a payment for past work and is aware that there are many things here that are not compatible with the general principle of social justice,” said the Prime Minister and continued that there is a large part of pensioners that are disadvantaged and do not get as much as possible in the context of the macroeconomic situation and as much as they, as individuals, deserve.” " This problem did not arise overnight, nor can it be solved overnight,” stressed the Prime Minister and continued that if economic forecasts hold, next year will be a year of growth and we will be able to advance more rapidly towards greater equity in pensions. The Prime Minister also recalled that the Government did a great deal for pensioners during the coronavirus epidemic. “We paid the solidarity bonus, introduced free bus and train tickets, and took all measures to ensure that pensioners were not additionally burdened because of the coronavirus situation,” stressed Prime Minister Janez Janša.
As far as the Long-Term Care Act is concerned, the Prime Minister explained that the proposed act is in the process of public discussion, and will then be submitted to the Assembly procedure. He also announced that the Demographic Reserve Fund Act was to be discussed at the Economic and Social Council and that it would then be submitted to the Assembly.