Press release regarding the financing of the Slovenian Press Agency (STA)
On 27 January 2021, the Communication Office of the Government of the Republic of Slovenia (GCO) fulfilled all of its obligations to the Slovenian Press Agency (SPA) arising from the public service contract.
Regardless of the fulfilment of all of the obligations stipulated in the contract, which was signed by the former Director of the GCO and the current Director of the SPA, Bojan Veselinovič, the latter has to date failed to send the required documents in accordance with the obligations assumed under the contract. In February, the GCO received a letter from SPA journalists claiming that their salaries remained the same as they had been before the arrival of Bojan Veselinovič in 2009, namely between EUR 1,200 and 1,300. In addition to this piece of information, the public also learned that part-time workers were being paid EUR 5 per article by Director Veselinovič. Given the fact that Director Bojan Veselinovič receives a monthly salary of approximately EUR 8,000 from the SPA, such remuneration of journalists, if the information is accurate, is unacceptable and deplorable. As the Director failed to provide the requested documents, this, unfortunately, could not be verified.
In the 2020 public service contract, the GCO was clearly identified as "the representative of the founder"; Mr Veselinovič agreed with this fact when he received money from the GCO but did not agree when he had to provide the GCO with the financial records. With the last payment, any contractual relationship between the GCO and the SPA ended. It therefore seems almost incredible that Mr Veselinovič sent the GCO an invoice in the amount of EUR 169,000.00 for activities carried out in January. The GCO, of course, has no legal basis to pay invoices sent by companies with which it has no contractual relationship. The GCO thus had to refuse the payment of the invoice.
If the SPA Director Bojan Veselinovič ends up changing his mind and recognises the GCO as "the representative of the founder", the GCO will draft a new contract that will allow the financing of the SPA in accordance with the Slovenian legislation. Unfortunately, Director Veselinovič has yet to show any interest in concluding this contract.
However, negotiations to conclude a market contract were ongoing. On 4 January 2021, the GCO addressed a request to the SPA to provide the price list of their market services. The SPA or rather its Director Bojan Veselinovič provided an incomplete price list to the GCO only a month later, more precisely on 1 February 2021. On 4 February 2021, the GCO asked him to provide a full and complete price list, which he then did. It took exactly one month for the GCO to obtain the price list requested on 4 January 2021.
After obtaining the complete price list, the GCO informed potential SPA market service users within the government administration about it. On 12 February 2021, the GCO submitted the collected interest to the SPA. Regardless of the fact that Director Veselinovič only provided the price list one month after the GCO's request and received the collected interest from the GCO within one week, he sent the following reply to the GCO:
"We consider your letter to be just another attempt at stalling and prolonging the period of free access to our content that we have been providing to the users of the government website from the beginning of this year in the hope of reaching an agreement on the form of future cooperation for which we have constantly strived, but have received no reply from you regarding our propositions."
Later on, Director Veselinovič indeed sent an offer, however, contrary to previous years, when the government administration received significant discounts (around 60%), he now decided against such discounts, compelling the government to further rationalise its spending. The GCO defends and will continue to defend rational and legal use of the taxpayers' money.