The Slovenia Times

Govt climbs down over judiciary bonus

Judges. Photo: Tamino Petelinšek/STA

The government has withdrawn a bill aimed at enacting Prime Minister Robert Golob's much criticised promise for judges and prosecutors to receive a monthly bonus of €600 gross.

Explaining the move on 2 February, Justice Minister Dominika Švarc Pipan said that the government would like to examine reservations expressed by the parliament's legal service, including that the proposal might be problematic from the aspect of the separation of powers.

It will be clear in the coming days whether the proposed solutions will stay, whether they will be somewhat altered, or whether the government will address the matter as part of the planned public sector pay reform, Švarc Pipan said.

The government is very serious about providing suitable material and staffing conditions for the judiciary to ensure its independence, accessibility, efficiency and good quality, she said. Over the past 15 years judges' salaries decreased by an average 5% in real terms and prosecutors' by around 11%.

"This situation ... is a result of the judiciary being undernourished for years in terms of funds and staff, and has already started affecting its functioning."

The bill proposed for judges and prosecutors to receive the bonus starting from 1 January this year and until the public sector pay system has been reformed, but not beyond the end of 2023. It was withdrawn before the National Assembly was scheduled to take a vote on it on 3 February.

The parliamentary legal service found it problematic from the aspect of the separation of powers because judges and prosecutors were to receive higher pay than top public servants in other branches of government, such as the president and prime minister, and even Constitutional Court judges.

Golob announced the bonus during a session of the Slovenian Judges' Association on 10 January, triggering a series of demands for higher pay and pensions.

According to the Justice Ministry, a total of 1,093 judges and prosecutors would receive the bonus at an estimated annual cost of €9.1 million.

Judges and state prosecutors understand the withdrawal as a temporary measure. Judges say it is important there should be no legal doubts about their pay arrangement, while prosecutors expressed disappointment at the government's decision.


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