PM Cerar says no govt reshuffle needed
Cerar made the statement after a cabinet debate dedicated to reviewing reports submitted to him by his ministers dealing with their work in the last year and plans for the coming year.
He said he had concluded from the debate and individual talks with ministers that the government was doing a good job in dealing with the main priorities.
The underlying goal for the cabinet as a whole remains providing political stability as a means of delivering on the promises it has set itself in the coalition contract.
The key objective for the cabinet, said Cerar, is taking action to improve the standard of living.
Among the main measures planned for this year are overhaul of healthcare aimed at reducing waiting times and the adoption of a framework for long-term care, he added.
Measures are also planned for boosting employment, reducing red tape and making the public administration more user-friendly.
He said the government was also planning measures to further reduce court backlog and other improvements in the judiciary. Tax tweaks would look to restructure burdens and measures will continue to reducing the government deficit and public debt.
A major challenge facing the government is also the response to the migration crisis, where the country must provide for a humanitarian response while also guaranteeing security.
As a transit country, Slovenia has been under immense pressure by the migration flows, but its response has been humane and effective, he said.
Rejecting criticism that he was ignoring evidence of improprieties by members of his cabinet in deciding to keep the cabinet intact, Cerar said that he had studied the allegations carefully and came to the conclusion that the ministers were fit to remain on.
"The decision to defend ministers did not come lightly, it was made after thorough consideration. I understand that by doing so I have assumed a share of the responsibility, but I didn't enter politics to run away from responsibility."
He reiterated that the two ministers who have come under greater public scrutiny in recent weeks due to their role in the scandal surrounding unlawful standby bonuses in their previous jobs had expressed regret and repaid the funds.
Both Finance Minister Dušan Mramor and Education Minister Maja Makovec Brenčič have accepted their responsibility and are doing a good job as ministers, he said.
He also said that the government had released the data which resulted in the revelations of standby bonuses. "We disclosed this. I think that this is a contribution to purifying society."
While the government has seen its approval ratings slump since the scandal, Cerar said that it "still enjoys sufficient trust to be able to legitimately perform its work".
He also rejected "generalised criticism" of the government and its members. As an example, he pointed to the opposition-sponsored interpellation motion against Foreign Minister Karl Erjavec, which in his view lacks substantive arguments.
At his own press conference, Erjavec said that Cerar's decision to keep the cabinet intact had been expected. He said the Pensioners' Party (DeSUS), which he leads, was happy with the implementation of the coalition contract and would remain a "firm member" of the coalition.
Echoing the prime minister, Erjavec said that efforts to improve the life of Slovenians and deal with the migration crisis were the main challenges facing the government.