The Slovenia Times

Zajc pledges to resume work set out by Environment Ministry


Zajc, who has so far served as one of the two state secretaries at the ministry and is nominated to replace his boss Jure Leben as minister, told the MPs that the ministry would have to keep up the pace and the manner of work set out under Leben's guide.

"Over the past six years we were working intensively, identified problems, set the priorities, the timeline and activities. If you let me, we will resume work at once," said the 38-year-old nominee, who is expected to be appointed minister at the plenary session on Wednesday after being backed by ten votes in favour and five against in today's hearing.

He said the goal was to implement key changes by the end of 2020. This is because when Slovenia holds the presidency of the Council of the European Union in the second half of 2021, tasks at home would be sidelined.

Zajc's first task at hand, if appointed, would be to present as early as next week an updated construction bill. Consultation will be held with all deputy factions and local communities, he promised.

The next step would be to update housing legislation, to make housing more accessible to young people. The Housing Fund would build solely rental flats, non-profit rent would be replaced by cost rent and the state would guarantee for loans for young families.

The environmental conservation act would be amended, including by introducing a fund to tackle brownfield areas and securing reserve funds for risk activity companies in case of a bankruptcy. A new water bill would be submitted to parliament in the first half of the year.

Zajc said that new waste management legislation would have to be passed by the end of the year. Packaging fees would be paid by all packaging waste producing companies and they would have to report four times rather than once a year.

The requirements for packaging waste disposal companies would be restricted to do away with all anomalies, the final result of which Zajc said would be a single efficient provider.

The nominee also promised a continuation of the fight against plastics, and amendments to several pieces of legislation, including that governing disaster relief and that implementing the constitutional right to drinking water.

Another major task would be a long-term climate strategy. "The country's goal must be to become carbon neutral by the mid-century," Zajc said, listing a number of questions that would have to be answered in the process.

Asked about waste incineration, Zajc said that "each country has to take care of its waste", calling for the country's self-sufficiency when it comes to end waste management. A public debate on an incineration plant has been conducted and Zajc has asked municipalities' association to check whether any of them is interested in having such a plant.

Zajc does not think there is a need for a new facility, because it is possible to adapt the exiting ones. If the country opted for an incineration plant, the government would have to determine the amount and type of waste to be thermally treated, the best technology would have to be applied, and monitoring would have to be conducted regularly with the data accessible to everyone. The plant would have to be non-profit as well.

If appointed, Zajc will succeed Leben, who resigned after becoming embroiled in allegations of wrongdoing related to the Koper-Divača rail project that he was responsible for as state secretary at the Infrastructure Ministry in the previous term.

Most of the committee members regretted that Leben had to resign, having "set out things well", as Boris Doblekar from the opposition Democrats (SDS) put it, but they wished Zajc successful work.

SDS MP Zvonko Černač hailed Zajc's willingness to cooperate, but said that past experience testified that even if concrete solutions and improvements had been agreed with the ministers in the past these were not passed if put forward by the opposition or the SDS party.

This is why he urged the nominee to apply a "more cunning mechanism to file these proposals through the coalition parties or the supra-coalition party". The latter reference was to the Left.


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