The Slovenia Times

11 Ministries, Prosecution Shifted to Home Affairs


The number of ministries has been reduced from 15 to 11, in line with campaign pledges that the government should be smaller and cheaper.

Costs will be cut; the state administration must provide quality services at a reasonable price, Rihard Braniselj of the Virant List said on behalf of the coalition.

The mergers of ministries will not bring huge savings initially, but savings will materialise eventually, he said.

The amendments were fast-tracked through parliament to create the legal basis for the new government before Democrat (SDS) leader Janez Janša is named PM-elect on Saturday.

The legislation would not have been controversial had it not been for cries of outrage over the abolition of the Culture Ministry and the proposal that the prosecution service be shifted from the justice to the home policy portfolio.

At committee reading earlier today the coalition said they would reconsider putting the prosecution under the control of the interior minister, but they reneged on the promise.

Positive Slovenia, which is to form opposition, sought to postpone the vote until after the appointment of the new prime minister, arguing there was still time to reconsider the move, but it did not succeed.

Parliament Speaker Gregor Virant, the head of the Virant List, said the coalition would examine this proposal once again due to concerns expressed by law experts and prosecutors.

Just as the MPs were to vote, the Prosecutors' Association said it opposed moving the prosecution to home affairs.

The association said the Constitutional Court had upheld the view in a 1998 ruling that the prosecution forms part of the judiciary in the broad sense.

The ruling also says that the police should be functionally subordinated to the prosecution, not the other way around.

The move also runs contrary to the Bordeaux Declaration on the relationship between the judiciary and prosecutors, and violates the act on public prosecution.

The association says that no European country has the prosecution service as part of the interior ministry.

SDS MP Vinko Gorenak, however, claimed in parliament today that Scandinavian countries and Portugal had such arrangements.

Another reason the move is considered controversial is the fact that Janša is on trial over his alleged role in the Patria bribery trial.

The trial is why the Virant List made it a condition that the SDS should control neither the home policy nor the justice portfolio.

However, according to media reports a close associate to Janša, MP Zvonko Černač, is tipped to become interior minister.

Virant told reporters today that his party may still take over both portfolios, but it will have to evaluate "which portfolios are strategically crucial".

The other controversial move, merging culture with education, has been met with protest by artists and employees in the creative industry.

A petition has been making the rounds calling for the Culture Ministry to remain independent.

However, the SDS rejected the claims that the move would harm culture in the long-term while producing negligible savings, saying such statements were "generalisations" as many EU countries had similar arrangements.

The party said culture would not lose anything, as the government would strive to preserve its special place in society with funds, staffing and legislation.


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