The first anniversary of Janez Janša’s administration
At today’s press conference at Brdo pri Kranju, Prime Minister Janez Janša, Deputy Prime Minister Zdravko Počivalšek, Matej Tonin, and the Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Food Jože Podgoršek presented the achievements at the occasion of the first anniversary of this administration of the Government of the Republic of Slovenia and the priorities of work for the coming period.
At the outset, Prime Minister Janez Janša said that the Government led by him had taken the oath almost a year ago. However, what has happened over the past year is not comparable to any year or part of any mandate so far in Slovenia’s history.
He continued that their combat with the pandemics had taken 80 or more per cent of the energy and the time the Government devoted to individual items on the agenda. „Considering how much we have dealt with the consequences, how to mitigate them and curb the spread of the pandemic – when we draw the line, we see that much that could be done given the objectives of the Coalition Treaty remained unrealised or is ahead of us at the moment,” said Prime Minister Janša. He added that it was quantitatively possible to measure the Government’s efforts to combat the epidemic and mitigate the consequences of the pandemics. „If we look at all the measures gathered in the eight anti-corona packages – given what other countries in the European Union adopted during this time –, we can see that we are practically the only ones who have addressed everyone. We have not left out even those categories that have been omitted by everyone else. We have exceeded significantly in the positive sense the forecasts given at the time when the pandemic started almost a year ago,” said the Prime Minister. He reminded that at the time, the forecast for Slovenia was a drop in GDP at an average of 7%, 120,000 unemployed at the end of 2020, and a significantly higher government budget deficit. “The GDP drop was more than 20% lower than forecast. The figures for the unemployed show that there are less than 90,000 unemployed. And with the measures we have taken, we have maintained tens of thousands of jobs that would permanently disappear from the Slovenian economy,” said the Prime Minister. He added that we do not yet have the forecast for this year, just projections from the European institutions. Still, according to his forecast (if there will be no significant negative surprises given the fact what we know about the evolution of the pandemic), in this year, we can make up for the drop in GDP, and we can “grow as much as we fell last year”.
„With the additional funds negotiated within the scope of the European Recovery and Resilience Facility, we will add additional resources. These will also allow us to do much more in Slovenia than in the past decade. Hence, we will be able not only to increase the country’s resilience to the pandemic and possible future coronavirus pandemic and similar ordeals but also repair things that need to be repaired in the health care system and care for the elderly. Besides, the state system will also gain the ability to react to crises, which we need in any case,” stressed Prime Minister Janez Janša.
„Despite the fact the pandemic accounted for 80% of our time, the Government strove to fulfil the key tasks and objectives of the Coalition Treaty, including systemic things that have remained intact for decades,” stated the Prime Minister. He also stated that the Democratic Fund Act is at the final stage of adoption before the National Assembly, which brings stability to the Slovenian pension system, transparent management of state assets and consequent dismantling of networks that negatively affect the processes of the Slovenian economy and society.
„During this time, we have remedied the most pressing issues in many Slovenian health institutions, which in one year have made up the capacity to deal with patients with COVID-19. However, the proportion of those who unfortunately died due to this disease is lower than, for example, in Germany. The Slovenian health care system successfully treated a higher proportion of COVID-19 infected patients than in Germany’s health care system. A big thank you goes to all those who made extreme efforts and ensured capacities in the Slovenian health care system. Thus, even in the most difficult times, Slovenia was not forced to transport patients to other countries, such as the Netherlands, which is considered one of the best health systems,” said the Prime Minister. He added that Slovenia did not have better equipment, capacities and salaries than Germany. This goal was achieved on an ethical drive due to additional sacrifices of tens of thousands in the Slovenian health care system. „It is them who should be thanked on the occasion of this anniversary,” said Prime Minister Janša.
In the coming year, in addition to the pandemic, which remains one of the critical tasks of the Government and coalition, and we do not know how long this is going to remain one of our essential tasks, the coalition is in its final mandate year. We are determined to deliver on the critical points of the Coalition Treaty before the year ends.
„Debureaucratisation is the first item on our list. On Thursday, we discussed the draft law of the debureaucratisation package prepared by the Strategic Council under Mr Simič. This is the first legislative package, and the Government has not completed the discussion. The draft law is still being coordinated with the social partners and the coalition. We are counting on the first package to go through the government procedure on Thursday and be adopted and enforced by summer. The first package already offers several solutions that will save Slovenians tens of millions of euros, millions of hours of work, bring them more leisure time or lifetime, given the many unnecessary and time-consuming barriers,“ said Prime Minister Janša. He announced the next package to come within the next two months. „The Government will propose all phases of the package by the end of this year. When they are adopted, Slovenia will be different, it will be more slender, it will be cheaper, and people will have easier access to services of higher quality,” said Prime Minister Janez Janša.
„Decentralisation is another strategic objective. From this point of view, a series of measures and laws have already been adopted. In future plan-making, we will continue to consider that Slovenia is not only Ljubljana, that we have 12 statistical regions and that some require special investment, care and protection of jobs and new programmes. The Government implements Decentralisation through all the systemic solutions it adopts and proposes,” said Prime Minister Janša.
„One of the long-term goals of all Coalition Treaties is long-term care arrangement. It is a fact that in the last 10 to 15 years, Slovenia did not make any investment in long-term care for the elderly and that more funds were given to the NGOs in the Metelkova ulica in Ljubljana than for the construction of nursing homes. This is a major deficit, which has also had a major impact on the victims of the pandemic,” said Prime Minister Janša, adding that in nursing homes that look like run-down barracks, you cannot set red zones and provide safety and protection against infection. „Long-term care is a big strategic challenge, and the law, which will also assume the provision of adequate financial resources for implementation, will be discussed by September. With this, we will meet one of the objectives previously stated in the Coalition Treaties, discussed in election debates, however, and no serious attempt has been made in this direction so far,” said the Prime Minister.
„The pandemic has further exposed all the problems in the Slovenian health care system. One of these problems is the lack of personnel. One of the causes is the partial chaos in the system, which was largely resolved during the pandemics. Another reason is the inadequate pay system. In the last week, the final phase of preparations for the public sector salary system reform began. The health sector has decided to exclude itself from the single salary system and build a new sector alone. On this basis, sufficient staff can be provided and, on this basis, some other reorganisations where necessary,” stressed the Prime Minister.
According to the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Economic Development and Technology Zdravko Počivalšek, the Government helped the economy to remain in good shape during this year of the pandemic. However, the transition to a greener and more digital economy will be necessary to continue the mandate and parallel with the completion of the corona crisis. In the Anti-Corona laws, the Government has allocated 7 billion euros of aid to citizens and companies. Half of them have been realised until this moment.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defence Tonin stressed that, in addition to the recovery plan and the debureaucratisation packages, the reforms that the Government will have to start preparing are also necessary. He stressed the importance of reforming and improving the public health care system, emphasising the reduction and elimination of waiting periods. He pointed to the country’s high ratings and one of the lowest unemployment rates among the EU Member States.
The Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Food Podgoršek stressed that his best efforts were to act responsibly on the agricultural sector, allocated to the party during the human resources cutting process when the coalition was established. He listed some agricultural successes, both in the form of direct aid to farmers, as a preventive action, e.g., in the case of African swine fever or ensuring that vouchers can also be used on tourist farms. Regarding assistance to pensioners, he stressed the one-off and regular harmonisation of pensions and one-off benefits to mitigate the pandemic effects. They support establishing a demographic fund and actively participate in the launch of the demography office in April.