78th regular session of the Government
Most of the discussion at today's 78th Government session was focused on legislative solutions related to the consequences of the biggest disaster in Slovenia's history, said Finance Minister Klemen Boštjančič at the beginning of the press conference, as the Government discussed the Bill on Reconstruction, Development and Provision of Financial Resources and the Draft Amendment to the Act Determining Intervention Measures for Recovery from the Floods and Landslides of August 2023.
Minister Boštjančič presented the Draft Amendment to the Act Determining Intervention Measures for Recovery from the Floods and Landslides of August 2023, which the Government has prepared to provide faster, more transparent and more effective assistance to people in order to eliminate the consequences of the August floods and landslides. Above all, he pointed out the following solutions:
- Advance payments for the reconstruction of apartments where no replacement or substitution construction is foreseen: advance payment is foreseen to be paid to the owners for reconstruction accounting for 20% of the damage registered in the AJDA application, provided that the damage exceeds six thousand euros. Advance payments are foreseen for buildings with at least one registered residence at the end of July 2023.
- The amendment also affects the current regulation of crisis accommodation by extending the possibility of crisis accommodation for an additional 21 days; if it is proven that a person can no longer live in their home environment, they will be provided with priority placement in institutional care.
- The right to an allowance for the costs of living at another address is regulated anew; the amount of this allowance will depend on the number of household members, with amounts ranging from EUR 150 to EUR 250 per month, for a maximum of one year, and with the possibility of renewal for one more year.
- The amendment also regulates the obligation for the state to ensure, at its own expense, the takeover and final processing of contaminated soils resulting from floods and landslides, by no later than 1 July 2024.
The Minister also said that the Government had decided to abolish the compulsory solidarity contribution planned to be contributed by all employees and employers, regardless of their situation and the extent to which the floods affected them. Instead, the Government will impose an additional percentage point on the corporate income tax of those companies that generate more income, which will be defined in the reconstruction law that will be discussed later.
With this intervention law, the Government also addressed the implementation of Solidarity Saturday. The Minister thanked the companies that have already organised the so-called ‘Solidarity Saturdays’. These remain voluntary, can still be organised by companies in agreement with their employees, and the payment for the day will go to the flood recovery budget, as planned. Employers will not pay tax and payroll contributions for such days, as their contribution will be in the form of a temporary increase in corporate income tax.
Up to EUR 50 million for advance payments to individuals affected by floods
The Minister of Infrastructure Alenka Bratušek explained the advances paid to people in more detail. She emphasised that up to and including yesterday, the state had already provided EUR 340 million of assistance to individuals, businesses, municipalities and others. The advances paid to people are regulated by the intervention bill and will be available to all those who have reported damage to the AJDA system, if such damage estimate exceeds EUR 6,000. She explained that those who will be provided with replacement or substitute facilities will be exempted from the advance payments, as they will be subject to a different procedure. Advance payments will be made automatically by the Financial Administration of the Republic of Slovenia on the basis of the information that FURS will receive from the Ministry of Natural Resources and Spatial Planning. She also asked all those who have reported their damage to the AJDA system to verify the data and correct any potential errors. She said the state would allocate up to EUR 50 million for advance payments.
The bill on reconstruction and development will be submitted to public debate among social partners and other stakeholders
The Minister of Finance then explained that the Government had also discussed the bill on reconstruction and development, which comprises a series of measures to speed up the process of obtaining various permits and consents or administrative acts, rehabilitation in the aera of cultural heritage, and a series of measures concerning infrastructure construction, with the construction of the 3rd development axis defined as a development measure that will connect Koroška with other centres of national, regional and intermunicipal importance. The reconstruction act also regulates the exemption of funds received for flood relief from debt recovery and public procurement, and further co-finances the programmes for improving mental health, providing psychosocial assistance and introducing mobile units of social work centres. Important development measures include increased internet connectivity in the affected areas.
Further help for the people is also foreseen in the form of a guarantee scheme for reconstruction loans, namely with a 100% state guarantee, so that even individuals who are not creditworthy will be able to benefit from it, since the interest rates will be subsidised by the state.
Various additional measures are also foreseen for the business sector and the municipalities to be implemented through financial instruments. Finally, Minister Boštjančič added that after the drafting of the clean copies of both documents, the Draft Amendment to the Act Determining Intervention Measures for Recovery from the Floods and Landslides is expected to be sent to the National Assembly on Friday, while the Bill on Reconstruction and Development will be sent to the social partners, parliamentary parties, strategic councils and other interested public, also on Friday.