The Slovenia Times

Up for a Major Challenge


Presenting his cabinet's goals and the measures with which it plans to achieve them, Janša said the goals were set in a way that would enable constant measuring of success.

The government's programme is based on three key goals: consolidation of public finances, stimulating economic growth and creating new jobs.

The consolidation of public finances will not entail structural changes or a reform but an adjustment "the state must make in order to retain the functioning of its vital systems and subsystems" and the functioning of a "law-governed, fair welfare state".

He said the country needed to face reality and the first step in this direction would be a supplementary budget cutting public spending by 10%.

Slovenia's ability to take out new loans is extremely limited, as budget deficit had exceeded 44% of GDP at the end of last year and was now near to 50% of GDP. "The difference here is two billion euros," he said.

Merely cutting the costs will not be enough, Janša said, adding that measures stimulating the economy would be "equally or even more important".

The first group of measures will create a more stimulating business environment by first tackling payment defaults, especially in cases where the state is the investor and then by simplifying zoning procedures.

In addition, any legal dispute involving small and medium sized companies should be solved within a year, which is "the European norm we will try to catch up with", Janša said.

Another priority will be reducing financial burdens for businesses by reducing labour costs, introducing tax breaks for investments and gradual decreasing of corporate income tax by one percentage point a year.

"Slovenia desperately needs foreign investments," Janša stressed, adding that foreign capital must not be perceived as a "threat to national interests".

Without foreign investments, economic growth and the standard of living will be that much lower, recession that much deeper, the number of the unemployed that much higher etc., he warned.

The third set of measures will aim to ease the credit crunch and create new jobs. "Urgently needed is restructuring of the banking system and easier access to financing for businesses, especially small and medium sized companies."

Janša sees the strengthening of the middle class as crucial for long-term consolidation of public finances and greater prosperity.

He pointed to some anomalies in Slovenia detected by the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) during the 4 December snap election, such as inequality among electoral districts and a lack of oversight in the financing of campaigns.

"Some things simply do not belong into a civilised state," he stated, adding that "there is no point in accusing our allies of interfering in our internal affairs". He was referring to the criticism of the comments by US ambassador after the general election.

He pointed out that the incoming government was the smallest in Slovenia's history, which showed that the executive branch of power would make savings from the top down.

He reiterated that a new social agreement for equal distribution of burdens would be offered to social partners, while the opposition would be invited to cooperate in a partnership for development.

"The government wants to take key steps in consensus. That is why we must all be aware of the situation and nobody must force the government to come up with the money that is not there."

He is confident that his team would lead Slovenia to a path of normal development. "I think the entire Slovenia deserves this opportunity."


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