The Slovenia Times

Govt urged to restore STA funding, govt official announces decree to resolve impasse


Ljubljana - The parliamentary Commission for Oversight of Public Finances urged the government on Thursday to resume STA funding as set down in a coronavirus relief law in three days. A Culture Ministry official meanwhile announced that the ministry would like the funding dispute to get resolved and was thus drafting a decree.

State Secretary Ignacija Fridl Jarc said the ministry would like the Government Communication Office (UKOM) and STA to resolve the dispute over contractual obligations, so a relevant decree is being drafted. She assured the MPs that the government did not intend to destroy the press agency.

STA director Bojan Veselinovič wanted to learn more about the decree, stressing that the STA law and the 7th coronavirus relief law were clear about STA funding.

Aleksander Reberšak from the coalition New Slovenia (NSi) said it would regulate in more detail the STA's public service, which would be a basis to conclude a new annual contract between the STA and UKOM.

Elena Zavadlav Ušaj from the ruling Democrats (SDS) said the government merely wanted to clear up some things.

She argued it did not want to jeopardise the STA's existence, it just wanted to clearly separate its commercial services from the public service.

Veselinovič meanwhile assured the commission that the STA kept a separate record of revenues from its commercial and public services.

The opposition-dominated commission also tasked the government to ensure the STA's institutional autonomy and editorial independence.

The coalition SDS and NSi proposed a resolution to urge the STA to inform it about the number of news reports published in individual segments as part of the agency's public service for the last five months, but the proposal was voted down.

Today's session was requested by centre-left opposition and unaffiliated MPs, who argued the government was systematically destroying the STA by denying it public service funding.

SocDem MP Bojana Muršič stressed that the opposition wanted nothing but the government meeting its legal obligations.

UKOM director Uroš Urbanija reiterated his position that UKOM had paid all overdue STA bills for last year, while the STA had not met its obligations.

He is however convinced that the STA, which is this month celebrating its 30th anniversary, "will live to see its 31st, 32nd anniversaries and so on".

Veselinovič meanwhile said "the STA story is a story about violation of laws" and accused Urbanija of "repeating and consolidating lies".

He stressed the STA had been carrying out its public service in line with the law despite receiving no payment from the state since the start of 2021.

Since the STA and UKOM failed to conclude a contract on public service for 2021, the coalition Modern Centre Party (SMC) added an amendment to the 7th coronavirus relief package in December tasking the government to finance the STA on the basis of the agency's 2021 business plan, which the STA supervisors approved late last year.


More from Politics