The Slovenia Times

Political Overview



Coalition willing to tackle Swiss franc loans

The government coalition indicated in early October that it will try to resolve the stand-off between the banks and Swiss franc savers over their outstanding loans, but it is likely to seek different solutions than the most recent proposed by an association of savers.

"Evidence and case law indicates there was something wrong in the approval of franc loans ... Moral and financial damage is occurring month after month," said Robert Pavšič, a deputy in the ruling Marjan Šarec List. His statement came after a regular meeting of coalition factions where it was concluded that the last proposal by the Franc Association, made in December 2017, was not appropriate and did not enjoy support in the coalition. Pavšič said the Franc Association would now draw up an alternative proposal.
The Association's previous proposal involved converting loans taken out in Swiss francs into euro loans at the exchange rate valid as of the date of the franc loan agreement. The proposal would apply to loan agreements dated between 28 July 2004 and 31 December 2010 and to all Swiss franc loans, including those that have already been paid off. The Association submitted the bill to parliament through an independent MP however, any unfinished legislation automatically expires when a new parliament is elected. The bill had been strongly criticised by the banks as well as the European Central Bank.



Delo says pay rises won't bring social peace

Simply raising salaries won't bring social peace, what the new government will have to do as it enters pay talks with public sector trade unions is "find the right proportion" among pay rises for different groups within the public sector, according to Delo's October commentary.

The fact is that the new government is faced with a police strike and expectations of three groups of employees who suspended their strikes in March. Police officers managed to negotiate pay rises ranging from 8% to 20% in 2016 and the government "admitted" they are not comparable with other uniformed professions.

But since the government later also raised salaries for soldiers, customs officers and judicial police, the police went back on strike. Doctors had also been on strike and the Health Minister had shown a great deal of understanding for their demands, thus upsetting public sector employees in comparable professions, for instance university teachers. There are several interpretations as to why there is so much dissatisfaction, even if Slovenia is out of recession and the public sector wage bill rose by 10% in the previous government's term.

The Marjan Šarec government, which features three parties from the Cerar government, should analyse the decisions of the Cerar government to see what consequences they have had. "The task for the new government is particularly hard because simply raising salaries will not bring social peace. The government will have to show a great deal of sensitivity to tackle the pay proportions so that the majority - in both the public and private sectors - consider them fair," Delo concluded in the commentary, Fight for Social Peace.


Photo: Tamino Petelinšek/STA


New minister looking at healthcare from different perspective now

When Samo Fakin was the head of the public health insurance company, ZZZS, he called for the exclusion of doctors from the public sector pay system. As health minister, he now believes this will not be an easy task. If doctors are to be paid according to their efficiency, legislative changes will be needed.

As the caretaker of the public health insurer, Fakin made several austerity proposals during the crisis. He proposed cutting the tax on medicines, lowering compensation for sick leave and co-payment of drugs. Now he says these measures should be revised. "In the long-term, GDP must be increased and the money spent efficiently, then maybe no painful measures will be required," he told STA in an interview in September, but he insists on raising excise duties on tobacco and alcohol and the introduction of a tax on sugary drinks. 
The coalition agreement envisages the abolition of supplementary health insurance and a transition to obligatory insurance. Fakin sees this as the right way to go, because it would minimise risks for all the parties involved, but he warns that supplementary insurance can be abolished only when an alternative source of funding is found. Fakin is, however, not inclined to raise the contribution rate. "With 200,000 pensioners on a monthly pension of EUR 500, we will have, or better to say, we have a social problem."

Photo: Tamino Petelinšek/STA


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