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Prime Minister Janez Janša: Slovenia is experiencing the greatest investment boost in its history

  • Former Prime Minister Janez Janša (2020 - 2022)
At today's press conference in Brdo pri Kranju, Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Janša and Deputy Prime Ministers Zdravko Počivalšek and Matej Tonin presented the projects completed in Slovenian municipalities during the Government's 2020–2022 term of office. At the press conference, they also discussed future projects already approved by the Government and the ongoing projects.

"Our shorter than regular term of office is about to end. Our Government took on the responsibility for the executive branch of power on the day following the declaration of the epidemic and, despite the epidemic being the Government’s main opponent at that time, the development of Slovenia did not halt," said the Prime Minister in his introduction. Because the campaign for the elections to the National Assembly will be launched soon, the Government had drafted an overview of the projects completed during its term of office and of the ongoing and scheduled projects, which includes projects that are part of national programmes and schemes and whose funding is secured. "Slovenia is made up of 212 municipalities. All these projects are carried out across the entire country. The Government had also visited all Slovenian regions apart from the southern half of the Osrednjeslovenska Region, which will be visited in the beginning of April. The projects whose value lists and timelines will now be made available on the central Government website represent the greatest investment boost for the country since its declaration of independence," explained the Prime Minister. He added that there were hundreds of projects in the virtual map; however, if this list was expanded by some projects that were still being added and were mainly a combination of investment from the general government budget, European funds and municipal budgets, one could talk about thousands of ongoing and future development projects in Slovenia.

"Slovenia is building and will continue to build kindergartens, schools, sports centres, homes for the elderly, general and nursing hospitals, community health centres, roads, bypasses, cycle routes, water and wastewater pipelines, energy infrastructure, and flood protection facilities; many public buildings will also undergo energy renovation and we are making all the preparations necessary to build the second unit at the Krško Nuclear Power Plant. Last year, in addition to the funds earmarked for agriculture and forestry and the funding that rural areas receive from European funds and from the first and second pillars of the Common Agricultural Policy, we secured another EUR 300 million worth of incentives for agriculture and rural areas," said Mr Janša. "Before the war in Ukraine, which poses a threat, because certain disruptions to the food supply chain will occur, in a certain way we secured resources to make Slovenia largely food-independent in the coming years, while energy independence will follow after the planned infrastructure has been built," described the Prime Minister.

The journalists chose the Grosuplje municipality as the case example for which the Prime Minister set out the Government map in detail. "The upper part of the website shows projects funded from the integral budget, while the lower part shows projects from European funds. Some listings include the projects stretching over the territory of several municipalities, such as the modernisation of the railways or the construction and reconstruction of regional roads; in such cases, the figures listed apply to entire projects. All this is taken into account in the total sum, which is also displayed. This means that the figures are not duplicated. The total value of projects in the map, although not all of them are on the list, because some projects are still being introduced to national development programmes or tenders for primary healthcare are still ongoing and will be put on the list at a later stage. The total value of projects currently on the list is almost EUR 8 billion, of which nearly a billion and a half is accounted for by European funds. Thus this is absolutely by far the biggest investment boost that Slovenia has ever been able to provide. After a few years, this will be the next step on Slovenia’s progress ladder, a real basis for well-being, which will provide for higher salaries, higher pensions, better jobs, more investment and a better business environment," noted the Prime Minister.

"The priorities that will be discussed at the Slovenian Business Summit are gaining real ground through the implementation of these projects. Some things have to be done, because they have not been done yet," stressed the Prime Minister, adding that all data is publicly accessible. "What is going on in each municipality can be checked. As already mentioned, the map is not yet complete and the final figure will definitely rise by over a hundred million," said Prime Minister Janša.

"The financial resources for the aforementioned projects are real and these are not some imaginary projects; the resources are provided either in the budget or in funds, because we have negotiated them," added the Prime Minister. He also recalled that yesterday the Ministry of Finance had received a congratulation letter from the Vice-President of the European Commission responsible for macroeconomic stability in the entire Union. "The Vice-President of the European Commission congratulated the Slovenian Minister on Slovenia’s success to be among those countries that reduced the debt ratio the most last year and on the fact that along with the low debt we had record positive macroeconomic results," said Prime Minister Janša. He added that the last among the four credit rating agencies also gave Slovenia a rating of A with a stable outlook for the future. "Slovenia has been given an A rating with a stable outlook by all four international credit rating agencies, which means that all that is on the map is not castles in the sky but something that we will actually do," said the Prime Minister.

As during the last Government visit to the Osrednjeslovenska Region there were some comments about how Ljubljana was neglected, Prime Minister Janša explained that Ljubljana has never received so many investments as it has now, "by far the most of all municipalities, because Ljubljana is also the biggest municipality and the list of investments is extremely long". "After we had negotiated significant European funding, we discussed with all Slovenian mayors how to allocate the billions we negotiated, and the Deputy Mayor of Ljubljana commended this cooperation. In many other municipalities you will also find on the map statements made by mayors who spoke about these projects and you can ask each one of them whether at any time in the history of Slovenia so much has been invested everywhere in the country," Prime Minister Janša told the reporters.

The Prime Minister continued by answering questions from the press. Initially the discussion mainly focused on how to address the increase of project costs with regard to the fact that raw material prices are rising and that the price pressures are enormous. "This problem does exist, but there were problems with annexes in Slovenia even when there was no price pressure; we are well aware that in some areas there may be a gap between the estimated investment value and the actual cost in the future; partial reserves are in the projects themselves, while we will look for other reserves on a case-by-case basis, because it is impossible to predict this on a flat-rate basis in advance", said the Prime Minister, who continued: "We are working on this, both in Slovenia and abroad, to make this situation of uncertainty last as little time as possible to stabilise things. Apart from Ukraine, one of the important issues to be discussed at the EU Summit will be the stabilisation of energy prices; the European Commission has prepared plans that will have a significant impact on stabilising prices in the following months. Since the price pressure is partly the result of broken logistics links and speculations, we expect that some of these risks will eventually be eliminated, that other routes will be set up and that this will reduce the pressure on prices. It is, however, very important that peace is restored in our Eastern Neighbourhood, because currently, this is by far the biggest risk factor in terms of price pressure," said the Slovenian Prime Minister.

When asked how important the situation in Ukraine is in the campaign and whether the projects presented will be the main topics of the campaign, the Prime Minister responded that "the war in our immediate neighbourhood affects all of us". "Our party has prepared a pre-election presentation built on the results, views, plans and the development of Slovenia in the next seven years until 2030. This is partly less relevant now, because we have to deal with the direct impact of Russia’s aggression on Ukraine and there will be little time for a normal campaign even in the coming weeks," explained the Prime Minister.  "As for the map of ongoing projects, projects that have been implemented and for which a realistic financial basis has been provided for the future, this is no pre-election material but a fact. This is something that has been done in the two years of our term of office, and at the end of this period we are evaluating the situation, so that everyone can create their own opinion, compare what has been done in the past two years and look back to what was going on before that, " added Prime Minister Janša.

To the question about the diplomatic mission to Kyiv, what it would look like, what the procedure would be and who would be in charge of the mission, the Slovenian Prime Minister responded that he was pleased to see that "as soon as the call went out to the public, we received applications from volunteers for the mission to go back to Ukraine. These volunteers are colleagues from different ministries who already have experience, having worked in the past for various international organisations. We also have candidates for the EU mission if the EU finally decides to take this step. As for the Slovenian mission, it will be a mission at the level of chargé d'affaires with full powers for the time being," added the Prime Minister.