The Slovenia Times

Ball back in govt court as parliament declines guidance on NLB


The joint committee, a temporary working body set up to deal with urgent matters, merely got acquainted with the Finance Ministry's latest proposal to change Slovenia's commitments about the privatisation of NLB.

It did not, however, issue guidance as the government requested last week, when it decided to seek the opinion of parliament before taking the final decision on how to proceed.

"We conducted a very comprehensive debate today about various aspects of the fulfilment of the sales commitment ... I will brief the government about the debate on Friday ... and propose to continue the debate in accordance with its powers," Finance Minister Mateja Vraničar Erman said after the committee session.

Last week, the government had debated the changes to the commitments Slovenia had given to the European Commission about NLB and on a bill to shield it from lawsuits in Croatia, but it suspended debate until receiving inputs from parliament.

The next government session is expected to take place on Friday. "I expect the government to adopt the appropriate decisions," Vraničar Erman said.

Committee chair Rudi Medved of the Marjan Šarec List (LMŠ) explained after the session, which was held behind closed doors, that the committee "cannot adopt any conclusions binding on the government."

The privatisation of NLB has long been a polarising issue, with the right calling for a prompt sale of the bank and the left insisting the government should do everything it can to delay or suspend the sale.

Unofficial information suggests the current government position is similar to Slovenia's proposal from last December - a part of the bank would be sold via an IPO this year and the remaining share up to 75% minus a share would be sold next year.

The proposal would also feature the bill to shield NLB from the damages Croatian courts have ruled in cases regarding foreign currency deposits at its predecessor LB.

The government is in a bind as it seeks political support for a key decision while it no longer has a majority in parliament. Indeed, even Modern Centre Party's partners in the old coalition, most notably the Pensioners' Party (DeSUS), do not support privatisation.

The Left is the most vocal opponent of selling the bank and it staged a small rally along with some trade unionists in front of Parliament House today just as the committee was in session.

"We should restart talks and negotiate hard with the EU Commission. The Ministry of Finance has not done enough," MP Matej T. Vatovec said at the protest.

The right, on the other hand, insists that the privatisation must be carried out without delay.

"All these delays are reducing the potential NLB price, which is not good," Democrat (SDS) deputy Andrej Šircelj said after the committee session.


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