The Slovenia Times

Package of laws to mitigate fallout of coronavirus crisis passed


A major part of the package is the act providing state aid in pay compensation for temporary lay-offs at companies that will need to temporarily lay off at least 30% of their workforce due to disruptions in supply or a drop in demand.

The act, whose costs are estimated at EUR 50 million, stipulates temporarily laid-off workers will be entitled to 80% of their wage average from the past three months, with the employers having to cover 60% of this sum and the state 40%.

The maximum temporary lay-off period will be three months and employers using the aid will have to commit to having the temporarily redundant workers employed for at least six month after sending them home.

Aid will also be provided in cases of workers unable to work as a result of self-isolation, but the state will cover the full 80% for such instances.

In line with amendments adopted at the committee level, the scheme was extended to self-employed workers, however the only aid will be the possibility to defer social contribution payments for the coming three months by up to two years.

While government representatives stressed the measure was about preserving jobs and avoiding people ending up on the shoulders of the Employment Service, the left-leaning opposition parties argued too little was being done for the self-employed, actually the most vulnerable group.

"100,000 sole proprietors is a number we should not ignore," said Soniboj Knežak of the SocDems, but an amendment by the Left to write off these social contribution payments was rejected.

The pressure on business will meanwhile also be mitigated with an act that reduces the administrative and tax burdens on companies, pushing back the deadlines for tax documentation filings and allowing companies to ask for a tax deferral of up to two years or for paying tax in up to 24 instalments.

The same law notably gives the government full discretion in the use of budget funds approved for purposes not deemed part of legally binding tasks.

The government will be able to reallocate funds without a supplementary budget, or more precisely on the basis of a supplementary budget that need not be submitted to parliament until up to 90 days after the crisis ends.

"The situation will not occur in this country where funding would not be available for equipment to save lies," Finance Minister Andrej Šircelj defended the measure as a number of MPs expressed misgivings about it, including from the ranks of the coalition.

"The government is getting powers that are unmatched in Slovenia's independence era and by far exceed those the government had during the financial crisis," noted Robert Polnar of the coalition Pensioners' Party (DeSUS).

The opposition Left's Luka Mesec expressed "fear these measure will be used for an illegitimate consolidation of power" and argued it could be unconstitutional, given that parliament's role as the guardian of the budget is being suspended even though a state of emergency had not been declared.

Šircelj responded by saying the government would report to parliament about the reallocations regularly, a provision inserted in the bill in an amendment.

Meanwhile, another emergency act adopted will allow banks to defer liabilities of companies, co-operatives, self-employed and farmers by 12 months. Banks will be compelled to do so for those whose operation has been thwarted under government measures to contain the coronavirus outbreak. The act will also apply for loans taken out during the epidemic.

Also passed were emergency measures that restrict trade with agricultural produce, food products and livestock and poultry to ensure sufficient food supplies in the country.

The act allows the minister, in consent with the economy minister, to impose restrictions or bans on exports or imports of individual products or groups of products to or from other countries. It also gives the minister the power to cap prices of certain foodstuffs.

Meanwhile, one of the measures also involves a one-month suspension of prison sentences in cases without safety risks as well the option of early release from prison.


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