The Slovenia Times

The Heat is On


Democrat (SDS) leader Janez Jansa and two newcomers who have just recently formed parties but are already near the top in the polls, former Public Administration Minister Gregor Virant and Ljubljana Mayor Zoran Jankovic, shared the same view on the proposal by businesses that the state should borrow a billion euros to directly help companies.

Jansa said that the banking system needed to be sorted out so that lending is kick-started, whereas Jankovic opined that companies should get tax breaks instead of outright aid. In a similar vein, Virant said public debt should be reduced, not raised.

Their views differ, however, on bank ownership. Virant wants the state to sell its stakes in banks, which he said were "sitting on the umbrella in the storm instead of lending it to businesses". Jansa and Jankovic said that quick privatisation will not solve the persistent problems.

Jankovic meanwhile came under fire for his proposal to raise the VAT rates by one percentage point in order to shore up public finances, an idea opposed by both his rivals as well as union and business representatives in the studio.

The candidates also touched on political staffing of companies in state ownership, which Virant said all governments have dabbed in. "I thank Virant for finally saying that they engaged in political staffing," retorted Jankovic, who used to be the boss of retailer Mercator and was swept away following a dispute with Jansa.

In a related subject, the trio clashed over the role the state should play in companies. Both Jansa and Virant said the state should pull out of companies, but Jankovic said there was nothing wrong with state ownership as long as it is well managed.

"Management is the key...In Jansa's term the state was withdrawing from the economy, and look at the results of this policy," he said.


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