The Slovenia Times

Emergency bill to help kick-start investment after epidemic


The goal is to better coordinate and speed up important investment by speeding up administrative procedures and potential disputes, the Government Communication Office said after yesterday's correspondence session.

Because of the epidemic, Slovenia's GDP will shrink substantially this year, which is why investment cycle must be set into motion again to kick-start not only the construction sector but other services as well, the government said.

Once passed, the emergency law will apply for investments the government will pick as strategically important with a decree. The list will be published on the web site of the Ministry of Environment and Spatial Planning.

Procedures will be coordinated by a newly-founded taskforce, but all procedures will still be led by relevant administrative bodies.

The government stressed that there would be no changes to the procedures but merely better coordination to avoid unnecessary procedural delays and doubling of procedures, and to make the process more efficient.

Environment Minister Andrej Vizjak asserted today the bill did not interfere with any environmental protection laws. "All expert and technical norms remain in place - we are only coordinating the action of state bodies so investors can obtain permits as quickly as possible."

The coordinating taskforce will divide the investments from the list into three priority lists according to the phase they are in. The first list will include projects that could be launched by the end of the year, the second those that could begin by the end of next year and the third those that require a new national spatial plan and whose value is estimated at at least EUR 25 million.

Only projects estimated at over EUR 5 million can qualify as important investment. The estimated total value of projects to be included on the list is EUR 500 million.

Vizjak said strategically important investments included important roads and railway tracks as well as the Mokrice hydro power plant, whose construction could start this year, and plants on the middle Sava river, which would be on the third list. He also mentioned the Koper-Divača rail track, the Pragersko hub and the Gorenjska railway project.

The public part of the Emonika project of a large train and bus terminal in Ljubljana also deserves to be on the list, according to Vizjak.

The newspaper Finance reported today that the government is soon to cancel the 2007 contract on a public-private partnership for the project, and sign a new contract with the owner of the land where the construction is planned, the Hungarian-owned company Mendota Invest, so that the work could start next year.

The new national library project NUK II that has been in the planning stages since 1989 is also on the list along with several other education institutions.

The list is expected to be finalised in the first week of June.

According to Vizjak, the law will be in force until the end of next year. The government is also working on systemic laws, but emergency solutions must be available before such legislation is passed, the minister said.

Projects will be assessed based on their compliance with the national strategic policies in transport, energy, development infrastructure, environment, agriculture, housing, healthcare, care homes, education, sport, science, defence, public administration, culture, interior and foreign affairs, and judiciary.

They will also have to be in line with the goals of strategic policies and programmes of the EU's 2014-2020 and 2021-2027 cohesion policies and other financial mechanisms envisaged in the 2021-2027 period.

When an administrative body will have to decide between two or more strategically important investments, priority will be given to privately funded projects. They will be followed by projects financed through international mechanisms such as development funds and banks, those financed from the budget with a specific purpose, by municipal budgets, EU funds and finally those funded by public funds.

All projects will have to benefit the Slovenian economy and state, so strategically important investments will be treated as public interest, the government said.

The law will also give priority to the projects in judicial proceedings. "Efficient and quick administrative proceedings must be backed by judiciary as well," the government said.

To make sure public procurement procedures are predictable, the European Commission's guidelines on participation of third-country tenderers and goods will apply, the government said.

In line with these guidelines, tenderers from third countries that are not signatories to international agreements on free trade and public procurement do not have to be invited to tenders.


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