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Prime Minister Janša takes questions from deputies

At today’s 25th session of the National Assembly, the Prime Minister Janez Janša answered parliamentary questions raised by Robert Pavšič (LMŠ), Marko Koprivc (SD), Luka Mesec (The Left) and Jožef Horvat (NSi). He explained to deputies the circumstances of his contacts with lobbyists and suppliers of medical equipment, and also answered questions about the consequences of bank rehabilitation and the lack of public rental housing.

The Prime Minister explained to Robert Pavšič the circumstances of his contacts with lobbyists and suppliers of medical equipment, and also spoke about the participation of officials in the sessions of the commissions of inquiry of the National Assembly. In response to a parliamentary question, the Prime Minister said that participation in commissions of inquiry was necessary and that he had no problem with that. “I have been interviewed by commissions of inquiry many times; I also received an invitation for the Friday session and will do my best to attend it. Meetings of working bodies are, however, attended by responsible persons from the ministries.” The Prime Minister went on to emphasise that, as the head of the member state holding the presidency of the Council of the EU, he has many obligations in Europe and beyond and a very busy calendar. “I have more European and international obligations in one week than your prime minister had in a whole year. Priorities must be chosen here, and as we use telephones in this country, it is possible to make an appointment as far as commissions of inquiry are concerned.”

Regarding private social contacts, he pointed out that gentlemen who were once respected businessmen became tycoons after the photos with the Prime Minister were published. He said that he had never made any business with them. “I spent no more than ten hours on yachts; I even think I spent half an hour on a sailing boat with Mr Kučan, and that was no lobbying.” He went on to point out that the photos circulating in the media are from the times when his party was in opposition, and that he, too, can take a few days off now and then. “When we are in government, there are practically no days off. And when we are in the opposition, first, nobody lobbies with us. Nobody lobbies with me because they know that I’m not the right target. Second, because whenever we are in opposition, your media write that the SDS will never be in the government again, that Janez Janša will never lead the government again. So why lobby with a person without any power? You should resolve this issue yourselves.”

In response to a parliamentary question, the Prime Minister pointed out that it is sad that all our opposition can do is flash some old pictures. “A lot is happening in Slovenia and I think that the election next year will be very important. It’s about time to start competing with programmes, concepts, the possible ways of working together to speed up Slovenia’s progress. While you’re focusing on old pictures, we have created a realistic basis for this.”  He emphasised that last year the average salary in Slovenia increased by 5.4 percent, that pensions rose by 7.7 percent in the first year of this Government's term, that the unemployment rate is the lowest after 2008, and that projected economic growth is 2 percent higher than at the fall experienced last year. “That is to say, we have a realistic basis for increasing prosperity, and given that we live in a parliamentary democracy, I think it would be a good time to start competing in who will make better use of these opportunities that have been created, instead of wasting time with empty talk and flogging a dead horse, which will come to nothing.”

Deputy Marko Koprivc (SD) asked the Prime Minister a question regarding the lack of public rental housing. The Prime Minister replied that in the next five years, thanks to the projects already underway, the Housing Fund will put on the market almost 4,000 housing units, rental apartments, which is more than ten times more than built in the last five years when Social Democrats were part of the government. “The lump sum to Slovenian municipalities was raised, which means that municipal and city housing funds can also invest and they will be able to supply more than 1,500 housing units. Therefore, over 5,000 housing units will actually be built in the coming years based on the projects and funds that are underway, partly also from the recovery and resilience plan.” The Prime Minister added that in addition to making big promises and doing very little in the plans so far there had also been a mistake made by mainly building housing units in the city centre. In this way, centralisation increased, people were leaving the countryside because young educated people go where the living conditions are better. Instead of pursuing a declarative policy of balanced development, we have centralised it. In addition, an apartment in Ljubljana is twice as expensive as in Mozirje or Murska Sobota and so on. So I’m glad the situation is improving. I can list the municipalities where housing units are being built now and fortunately not only in Ljubljana.”

In response to a question from the deputy Luka Mesec (The Left), the Prime Minister explained the circumstances of his contact with medical equipment lobbyists and suppliers. The Prime Minister emphasized that some evidence should have been presented in the face of serious allegations of corruption.  "We have an application at our disposal that shows how much business a particular company did with the state at a particular time and how much it earned, and the persons you have mentioned did significantly more business with the state during the rule of left-wing governments, even when your party was part of the government. These are the facts. And as far as corruption is concerned ... Mr Kordež probably gave you some advice on this, but I wouldn't give it a second thought." The Prime Minister went on to say that the commission of inquiry into corruption in healthcare, headed by Jelka Godec, caught many people with their hand in the cookie jar, submitted evidence to the prosecution, but nothing happened. In his response, the Prime Minister said that Božo Dimnik was a member of the Slovenian World Congress at the time of independence and that he was also the president of the Slovenian-Croatian Friendship Society. “Some people have many tentacles in their lives and it's very interesting that nothing bad has been said about them so far, but now that some photos have been published this is such a huge deal.” The Prime Minister also said that he had met Mr Dimnik many times, but had never talked to him about making deals in healthcare. He also pointed out that Božo Dimnik's best friend was Mr Miklavčič, the minister of health in a left-wing government.

In response to the question from Jožef Horvat (NSi) regarding the long-term consequences of the actions taken by the Alenka Bratušek Government on bank rehabilitation, the Prime Minister replied that during the time of left-wing governments, when the media did not look over their shoulder and there was no state oversight, many decisions had been made with consequences for the future. He assessed that those were the risks that could prevent development. "The judgment of the European Court of Justice regarding the expropriation of holders of subordinated bonds does not directly require the government to repay them, but it clearly states that the decision was illegal, illegal because it did not provide legal protection to these holders, to which they are entitled, and we know what this means." The Prime Minister added that if the holders of subordinated bonds get repaid based on a court decision, this entire sum will be the result of the actions taken by Ms Bratušek when she was saving Slovenia from the Troika. Instead of borrowing cheap money, Alenka Bratušek expropriated the holders of subordinated bonds and put the whole debt for bank rehabilitation on the taxpayers' shoulders. She also included two tycoon-owed banks, Faktor banka and Probanka, in the rehabilitation package, for which hundreds of millions of euros were spent. “This was that saving of Slovenia for which we are paying the price now. Interesting how instead of these billion euros some old picture, which was already published in the past and rediscovered now, is front page news in the Slovenian media.”

The Prime Minister concluded his answers to the deputies' questions by saying that a huge amount of funds would be available from the Recovery and Resilience Facility for healthcare investment. “I call on everyone to pass this law which is in the process of adoption as soon as possible.” Furthermore, the Prime Minister said that the Government will solve some problems relating to healthcare by passing the Long-Term Care Act. This law addresses the care for the elderly who do not need hospital care but cannot live alone at home. Slovenia has never built any capacity for these people. “And therefore I appeal to everyone ... when this law is passed, hundreds of thousands of people in the future will be grateful to the National Assembly for finally solving a problem everyone has so far avoided.”