The Slovenia Times

PM expects aid to business could top EUR 1.5 billion


Ljubljana - The corporate sector will need aid in excess of EUR 1.5 billion to cope with high energy prices, Prime Minister Robert Golob said on Monday after meeting with representatives of business associations. The exact scope of the aid will depend on how successful reform of EU energy markets will be.

Just weeks ago Golob said that aid would have to amount to a billion euros.

Today's statement came after Golob, joined by the infrastructure, economy and finance ministers, held talks with the largest business associations and CEOs of major companies dedicated to energy prices and possible supply disruptions.

Several measures have already been put in place, most recently an aid package worth EUR 40 million and lower VAT on energy.

Subsequent measures will be discussed by a task force formed today that will "decide this month how to help businesses next year with this grave problem called the energy crisis", Economy Minister Matjaž Han said.

Finance Minister Klemen Boštjančič said that the aid would be "generous", though he was cautious about the exact figures.

"We can't even estimate it because it's very unpredictable how the crisis will unfold," he said, while noting that aid could top a billion euros.

He also said there would be "no helicopter money". Money has to be spent prudently because the funding will largely come from increased borrowing.

The representatives of business were disappointed about the meeting, in particular the absence of a pledge to cap energy prices, which several associations have urged the government to do.

"If there is no price cap, we can count damage in the billions of euros next year," said Tibor Šimonka, the president of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GZS).

Šimonka expects that the task force formed today would agree some sort of a modified ceiling on energy prices that would put small, medium-sized and large companies on an equal footing.

Overall, Šimonka said it was good that the government is already thinking about measures that would be useful for any crisis situation, be it disruptions of energy supplies or declining orders.

Infrastructure Minister Bojan Kumer said the government would examine all possible measures to put a ceiling on electricity prices, noting that Slovenia has already started lobbying for an EU intervention in the electricity futures market.

The meeting also featured the Chamber of Commerce (TZS), the Chamber of Trade Crafts and Small Business (OZS), and the Employers' Association.


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