The Chronic Problem of Denial
The phenomenom of the general (lack of) understanding of the need for cuts
Generally everybody in Slovenia "knows" that we must adjust public expenses to real tax income from the State budget. Everybody "understands" that we must reform the pension system because we are living longer than 20 years ago. Everybody "understands" that we must reform the health system because the demographic trend is pushing the cost of the system up and the revenue down. We understand that in the State budget we don't have enough money to cover all projects or systems that we designed in recent years. This general agreement is just perfect. The problem, as always, lies in specifics.
Operational invalidity - "Unacceptable" attack on benefits, institutions..
When we get to the stage where we need to define the activities and measures for operational cuts inside the budget, we discover that every cost - Ministry, Agency, Office, Programme etc.. inside the public sector is "strategic"! In every sector, cost cutting is immediatelly "unacceptable" because every sector is "crucial" for the country. In every sector there is no room for rationalisation. Or even better: first we must clean every other sector before touching "mine".
Facing a Reality check or dangerous politisation
Public statements and views of the highest Union leaders, for example Branimir Štrukelj from the Public Sector Union "Lowering the number of employees in the public sector is unacceptable" are, in fact, acts of total irrational denial or dangerous populist politicising. In an economy where we are faced with an almost 10 percent drop in GDP over the last three years; where we are facing a 50,000 drop in the number of employees in the private sector; where we are spending EUR2bn annually more thanthe real fiscal revenue of the budget and are not able to get additional foreign loans for financing the public deficit; in this economy we can no longer afford to mobilise people on the basis of maybe short term attractive and appealing but totally unrealistic statements and views.
Government's No. 1 task
Getting a credible message through to the population. Neutralising the obviously very contagious populism will be the main and the hardest task of the government over the next few weeks and months. The basic precondition for this is that the government must have a clear focus on the important and strategic questions, it must at least temporarily forget disruptive political stunts of the past.