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Prime Minister Janez Janša meets with mayors regarding COVID-19 situation and development issues

  • Former Prime Minister Janez Janša (2020 - 2022)

Prime Minister Janša met today in Brdo pri Kranju with mayors of Slovenian municipalities. During the working consultation, they discussed measures to control the spread of COVID-19 in the coming months and public finance and development issues with the ministers.

"We have a clear picture of our current situation, while we also have an accurate insight into what lies ahead. We know what happened in this situation in the previous waves and it will be no different this time; except that we are faced with new, more contagious variants of the virus and that we now have enough vaccines available," said the Prime Minister in his opening remarks. "Yesterday, we spent a lot of time discussing the exponential growth of the Delta variant in Africa. There are 300 million people waiting for the vaccine in Africa, while they only have 2% of the vaccines available and are dying in large numbers. Whereas we have several hundred thousand doses of vaccines, which people can even choose from, and we are still not getting vaccinated, while at the same time people are being hospitalised with severe cases of COVID-19 and have not been vaccinated, even though they could be," said the Prime Minister. He also said that we are now no longer at the point where the global science has to provide the vaccine, the EU has to ensure enough production and the Government has to distribute the vaccines, but that it is now up to each individual to take advantage of the situation. "It is up to us to organise vaccinations as promised. Anyone who becomes seriously ill or even dies in the autumn because they have not been vaccinated, can hardly blame it on the Government, the mayor or anyone for that matter. In the end, we will all feel the consequences if kindergartens and schools are closed, production is curtailed and lockdowns are imposed. Not only will this be a challenge mentally, but we will also waste the unique opportunity we have to recover," said the Prime Minister. He added that the economy is doing well at the moment. "We have more investment funds than we have ever had in the same period, we can achieve a lot of things, but if companies cannot work, if there are restrictions on movement in Europe, then we will not be able to take advantage of this opportunity," he pointed out. "A lot is up to us in the next weeks and by 1 September I think we can prevent another lockdown or at least allow a large part of public and economic life to go on uninterrupted with sufficient vaccination coverage," he stressed.

"Many governments in Europe are already discussing the extent to which vaccination should be made compulsory. Some European countries are already discussing the use of vaccines in children, while some countries will introduce compulsory vaccination in the next two to three weeks. Here, it will probably be an endless debate and I doubt that the National Assembly will be able to take such decisions, so let's try another way and do everything we can to make people understand that vaccination is the alternative that we have at our disposal," the Prime Minister said. He also added that, regarding vaccination, it might be problematic that until now it has been said that 60% vaccination coverage among adults is required, but now a more contagious variant has arisen and this number will not suffice. "As we spoke about the 60% vaccination coverage, many thought that it was better for others to get vaccinated so they would not have to. But this calculation is no longer realistic and this needs to be said frankly," said the Prime Minister

"We managed the first wave well because we worked together," the Prime Minister stressed, adding that he had also been in personal contact with the mayors at the time. "Slovenia recovered and we successfully stopped the first wave, but in the second wave, the younger population was not aware of the danger and thought that they were not in danger, however, their actions harmed others," the Prime Minister said. In conclusion, he also thanked the individual municipalities for all the best practices they implemented in regards to the vaccination and its promotion. "Let's exchange best practices, give advice on what else can be done, you have a lot of experience and when we combine all these things, we can get to work and we can overcome this Delta variant by autumn," the Prime Minister concluded.

In the second part of the meeting, Prime Minister Janša and the mayors, together with the ministers, discussed public finance and development issues.  The Prime Minister emphasised that the Government will visit all Slovenian regions in the next six months, because despite holding the EU Council Presidency "we do not intend to forget Slovenia". He also asked the mayors to present the outstanding issues they are facing in their regions or municipalities to the ministries when arranging the Government's visit, in order for the ministries to resolve them before they arrive.  "This has proven to be successful in practice during the visit in the Podravska region when 34 open and pressing issues were successfully resolved before the actual visit," said the Prime Minister.

He added that in the future the wage system and its reform should be discussed.  "As a framework, the single wage system was a good idea and at the beginning the intentions were good too, but later, with the annexes, additions and special agreements, differences occurred," commented the Prime Minister.  He pointed out wage disparities as one of the weaknesses. "We can hardly attract any IT expert to the state administration, because students already have higher salaries than someone who has been employed in the state administration for a longer time," said Prime Minister Janša and added, "For this reason there is a lot of outsourcing of IT services, but not everything can be outsourced".  According to the Prime Minister, this issue and the lack of such personnel could lead to major problems in the digital transition.  "We should give the service sector of the public administration – the health sector, the armed forces and the police – special treatment, because these are systems where no uniform levelling of 60 wage grades can be applied.  Each of these systems has its own specific characteristics," added Prime Minister Janša.