The Slovenia Times

Heated debate on political staffing at energy companies


Ljubljana - The parliamentary Commission for Oversight of Public Finances debated on Monday staffing at state-owned energy companies. The centre-left opposition reiterated its allegation of politically-motivated dismissals of managers, while Infrastructure Minister Jernej Vrtovec yet again denied having anything to do with them.

On behalf of the initiators of the session, Andrej Rajh from the centre-left Alenka Bratušek Party (SAB) highlighted the case of Robert Golob whose term as chairman of electricity distributor Gen-I was not extended last month.

He finds it unacceptable and irresponsible that while Gen-I has increased revenue from two to three billion euro and its profit quadrupled, its boss was denied another term.

"Competent staff is key for every company, while choosing staff based on political preferences can only have rather harmful consequences for the company and catastrophic consequences for taxpayers."

In this respect he pointed to Telekom Slovenije as an example of irresponsible action after the national telco, led by the ruling SDS's Cvetko Sršen, has recently announced its withdrawal from the electricity distribution market practically overnight.

Rajh also highlighted a statement Minister Vrtovec had made about long-serving energy directors having to bid farewell if some long-term investments were to be properly managed.

Responding, Vrtovec said staffing was conducted by supervisors and the Slovenian Sovereign Holding (SSH), while he declined to comment on individual dismissals.

He said the energy sector was in for major challenges to achieve climate goals and energy independence, an area he would like politics to be in unity on.

He finds it unacceptable that Slovenia produces a mere 2% of energy from sun, while solar power stations are waiting for more than six months to get connected to the grid, or are not connected at all. Hence his statement about the long-serving directors.

Vrtovec thus urged discussing the challenges that are within the government's jurisdiction, such as legislation, strategies or zoning.

Andrej Ribič and Boris Sovič, dismissed as heads of Elektro Ljubljana and Elektro Maribor last month, said solar power stations cannot be connected to the grid where it is weak. "Promising people solar power stations, heat pumps and electrical cars without ensuring funds for infrastructure development is unfair and misleading," said Sovič.

Gen-I employee Tone Krkovič, who is considered to be close to the ruling SDS, told the commission that he visited SSH chairman Janez Žlak at his home last month.

Žlak complained to him that out of the 150 supervisors the SSH had replaced in a year and a half, only three had been replaced based on the SSH's judgement, all the others had been replaced on the basis of decisions taken by the secretary generals of the coalition SDS, NSi and SMC parties, Krkovič said.

Opposition MPs were extremely critical of what they termed a staffing tsunami of horrifying proportions. The LMŠ's Robert Pavšič said the minister's categorical denial of having a say in staffing was becoming unbearable as there was a lot of clear evidence to the contrary.

The coalition NSi's Aleksander Reberšek meanwhile criticised the LMŠ for alleging political staffing while it had itself announced purges if it came to power.

The commission suspended the session and is yet to wrap it up.


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