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Prime Minister Janez Janša: The government’s preparation to cooperate with the business community is mutual

  • Former Prime Minister Janez Janša (2020 - 2022)
Prime Minister Janez Janša participated at the January session of the Managers’ Association of Slovenia. The broad event represents a symbolic start to the new economic year, which is why it is full of optimism, new ideas, drive, and expectations. Prime Minister Janez Janša spoke with the executive director of the Association on aiding the economy with anti-corona packages, on the national recovery and resilience plan, and on other topics which are significant for the Slovenian economy.

“We are at the beginning of the year and we always look a full year ahead at the start. It is especially difficult to be an adviser this year, even though we may take some risks,” said the Prime Minister, and added that he believes the first half of the year will unfortunately be similar to what we had last year, while the second half will be much better. “We’re counting on the summer being as normal as it was last year, and that autumn will be even better,” said the Prime Minister, and added that the issues concerning development and the new drive are also important. “We wish our results in the second half of the year to be as they were in the third quarter of last year, when Slovenia’s economic results deviated greatly from other European countries, in a positive sense,” said Prime Minister Janez Janša.

He added that the first priority of the recovery plan concerns the sectors where demands are the greatest, i.e. health, and long-term care of the elderly, whereby he added that we have seen what was happening in our care homes where nothing had been built in the last 15 years. “A very important focus is also on the new launch, which is integrated in the other strategies of Europe, i.e. green, digital, and innovation, which is all somewhat intertwined.” “This year will still be the year of rules which are unknown to us in Europe. The European Commission just extended the more loose rules of state aid, and all that has usually and generally restricted state interventions, which is why we will combine the state measures this year, encourage the economy, as well as the first reforms which should make our environment sustainable and more economy-friendly,” said Prime Minister Janez Janša.

The Managers’ Association of Slovenia and its stakeholders also prepared an action plan for the growth of activities, and the Prime Minister was asked to what extent the government intends to include these proposals in the recovery and resilience plans. “Everything that belongs to the framework will be included, excluding the matters that fall in the scope of business decisions, which needs to be separated,” said the Prime Minister. “The government does not see itself as a master and manager of the economy, only to the extent that is necessary in the infrastructure, and where a monopoly is necessary; however, this is one of the key issues of the rate of our development, and even productivity is a problem for us,” said the Prime Minister. “Our competitiveness indicator shows that we had a 3% productivity growth between 2000 and 2008, which fell to 0.6% from 2008, due to the crisis and slow recovery,” said the Prime Minister, and indicated that the number was much too low. “We had one of the longest crisis periods or recessions in Europe, and the tasks here are divided as to how to fix this,” said the Prime Minister, and continued by saying that the government’s task is to create an environment. “Companies should take advantage of these opportunities in an environment which needs to be as favourable as possible, and these opportunities are many,” said Prime Minister Janez Janša. He believes that the major productivity issue falls on politics or those who “create the environment”. “If you spoke with Mr Simič, he would tell you exactly where the problems lie. If there was no epidemic, then the first debureaucratisation package would probably go through parliament, but these are now reserved for anti-corona packages, while the Slovenian administration is not on the highest level concerning its potential and capability, and is not capable of performing two things at once in such complex matters,” said Prime Minister Janša, and added that he believes the second half of the year will be better because the field is set. “To raise productivity, the most we can do is to improve the environment, remove hundreds of bureaucratic barriers, and cheapen the function of the state,” said the Prime Minister.

“The National Assembly holds one regular session per month, and there are some extraordinary sessions in between; one more impeachment is added in, while a day only has 24 hours and concerning the preparations of the government, many of these things are done, and we try to do some things that fall in the jurisdiction of the government, but key things need to be done through the legislator,” said the Prime Minister, and continued that Slovenia’s matters are arranged differently than in other countries. “Important matters are in the rulebooks, while unimportant matters are in the legislation. The hierarchy is completely lost. Matters that are more important are in lower priority acts, while those that are less important are in laws, some even in laws requiring a 2/3 majority. There causes great confusion. We probably have the highest number of regulations per capita in the world,” said Prime Minister Janez Janša. He also added that the administrative environment had significantly less bureaucracy during the first independence government. “We have produced a great number of regulations during this time and accordingly expanded the administration, and bureaucracy, and this can also be seen in crisis situations, such as the epidemic, when we cannot review all of the regulations, even though immediate action is required,” said Prime Minister Janez Janša, and added that he does not believe it’s possible in just 8 years “from our previous mandate to produce so many regulations and complicate things to the point where we’re suffering from headaches.” “Solutions other than the radical shrinkage of the bureaucratic nonsense are practically non-existent, otherwise this will continue to suffocate the environment and productivity,” said Prime Minister Janez Janša.

He also spoke about Slovenia’s presidency to the Council of the European Union. “The second half of the year, when Slovenia takes the presidency, will surely be marked by two categories of problems, matters, or topics. One is the post-epidemic recovery, and even though the European stigma is such that we unfortunately tend to forget about the causes of problems once they are gone, and start dealing with other matters, only to return to the initial problem later on. We wish to have an assessment of Europe’s reactions during the epidemic in the health, financial, security, and economic fields, and to prepare a strategic action plan in the event of a recurrence of the problem, i.e. to increase the resilience of the whole of Europe to similar challenges. Slovenia already proposed this,” said the Prime Minister, and added that the second problem that awaits us is related to delays. “Many delays have accumulated to date; meetings with other continents were cancelled, and a number of measures in the economic sphere (the conclusion of the monetary union) were suspended, because the European Council has difficulties to deal with two topics at the same time, before it harmonises something among the circle of 27 countries, which requires considerable time and effort. Imagine your management body has 27 people. If you let every single one of them speak for just 5 minutes, you will deplete all the time you have for your meeting. This awaits us as well. Everyone is now passing the responsibility of those meetings to us. The epidemic aside, we only wish to have everything that Europe needs, i.e. a significantly larger concentration, in the scope of productivity, innovation, and at European level. If we compare Europe to North America and China, we are behind in several areas, and we wish to push this agenda forward as well,” said the Prime Minister.

He added that the government’s delegation visited Israel in December, “where we studied their model for promoting innovation, especially in the area of artificial intelligence, and we saw many things there. They are way ahead of the things in European programmes.” “When we speak about young people and innovation, the Israelis say that sharing good experiences is not enough, it is equally important to share bad experiences, i.e. not just why someone succeeded, but also why they didn’t succeed, in order not to repeat the same mistakes. We will have a hard time finding such an approach in Europe,” said Prime Minister Janez Janša.

Regarding the scope in which the government is prepared to include the economy in its recovery plans and development projects, the Prime Minister said the government is prepared to include it in full.

“The key problem concerning the improvement of the environment, and debureaucratisation, the government cannot win this battle alone, and without your help, because usually when you start something, the administration makes sure the reform includes the establishment of one more committees and the mandate passes,” said the Prime Minister, and added that the pressure from the economy should be great, “otherwise we will have a difficult time.” “We are determined, and we know what and how. We also know what barriers await us. Thank you for your spirit of cooperation,” said Prime Minister Janez Janša. “We hope that the times when we can only see each other through screens will be over as soon as possible, that we will be able to meet at the congress centre at Brdo, to exchange our experiences, present concrete legislative solutions,” said the Prime Minister, and added that when the solutions enter the legislation phase, he would like someone else to have a look at them.

He also said that there is an anecdote about Maria Theresa, who had a group of people at her court who read the law that concerned them, and if they understood the law, then it was passed on to the parliament, otherwise the state officials had to amend it. “There is much truth in this approach. We have many laws that, once you read them, you don’t know exactly what they mean, and after you go through their clarification, you know even less. Then there are the executive acts where they tend to complicate things even more, and this is where we need your help, if there is any willingness, then this is mutual.”

Finally, the Prime Minister also congratulated Stanislav Rožman for receiving the life’s work award. “Congratulations also to all the younger laureates, Mr Rožman shows that not only is it possible to remain in a responsible function for as long as he has, but also that such a function may be performed responsibly,” said Prime Minister Janez Janša.