Janša: This is just the first package of measures
The emergency bill brings financial assistance for companies and workers affected by the epidemic as well as for the self-employed, pensioners, students and welfare recipients.
The National Assembly has never before discussed such a bill. "It features a number of emergency measures no government has ever put forward in a normal market economy," said Janša.
Noting the epidemic had been underestimated at first and pointing to tens of thousands of deaths around the world, Janša said the virus had already claimed more victims in Slovenia than during the ten-day Independence War in 1991 among soldiers and Civil Protection members.
The number of victims in Slovenia, which has a population of two million, has risen to 16 and the number of those who have tested positive for the virus is nearing 1,000.
Janša, whose government took over a day after the previous government declared the epidemic, said the Slovenian health system's capacity amid the crisis was critical while it had not sufficed even in normal circumstances.
The government is thus trying hard so that the existing capacities suffice in the coming weeks to help those who need a bed in hospital and intensive care, he stressed.
The bill brings the most urgent measures to contain the epidemic. "For now we have not yet managed to contain it," he said.
The government is trying to provide a financial cushion to enable Slovenia to preserve its potential in people, economy, culture and science for after the epidemic.
Aware the bill is not perfect, the government is already working on a second package of measures, which will mostly address liquidity of the Slovenian economy.
The second package will also feature corrections to this bill, Janša said in response to those who have criticised it for overlooking some groups. "We've received many proposals, and many are justified."
He also announced package No. 3. "We'll also prepare a third package, in which you will have to set the exit strategy after the government takes a decision on the end of the epidemic."
Nobody knows when this will happen, said Janša, mentioning this autumn, when according to the European Commission a vaccine could be found.
If a vaccine is indeed available in the autumn, the financial consequences of the EUR 3 billion bill can be expected to be dispersed over a period of 20 to 25 years.
In the opposite case, Janša expects a more bleak scenario. "In the opposite case, we'll return to the period 20 years ago when we were not yet part of the European family and we had to take care of ourselves on our own."
He admitted the government had been considering the possibility of assuming the parliament's powers, an option possible under the constitution, but opted against it.
He thus urged MPs to cooperate, stressing parliament needs to be up and running. "If any of us is positive [for the virus], you'll all have to isolate," he warned.