Slovenia putting together new flood relief measures
Following initial legislative changes to facilitate the flood relief effort, authorities in Slovenia are moving ahead to come up with much-needed additional measures to help affected people and companies. The coalition and opposition seem to be on the same page when it comes to mitigating the flood damage.
On 17 August, the government identified a new set of emergency measures designed to speed up the flood relief effort, and announced that the planned emergency bill would be finalised next week and fast-tracked through parliament.
Unveiling the proposed new measures, Minister of Natural Resources and Spatial Planning Uroš Brežan talked about the plan for a state technical office with multiple branches to assist affected individuals, local communities and businesses in reconstruction, renovation and relocation.
The government intends to speed up permitting for buildings in need of immediate restoration, and the authorities are in the process of finding empty flats for those who lost their homes.
Companies will get financial aid to offset the damage, including through advance compensation of up to 10% of estimated damage to machinery, inventory and revenue, Economy Minister Matjaž Han said.
The emergency bill will include a 100% wage compensation for workers taking part in the clean-up effort at their companies, effective from 3 August to 3 September. Moreover, both individuals and legal entities will be entitled to a 12-year loan moratorium.
Individuals who suffered the greatest damage in the floods will get a one-off solidarity aid worth seven times the normal amount of aid, said Labour Minister Luka Mesec.
The government is also planning to activate the unemployed via the existing system of public works to help in the reconstruction, and employment of foreigners will be fast-tracked as well, he added.
The efforts to prepare relief measures continued on 18 August, when the heads of all five parliamentary parties met to discuss further draft measures that are taken into consideration for the emergency bill.
They agreed on many of the proposals at what was described as a constructive meeting.
"I want this national unity to last as long as possible and the recovery that will now take place to set an example for future generations on how to work together for the good of the people," Prime Minister Robert Golob said after the meeting.
The emergency law will bring measures that should have tangible effects as early as in September, he added.
Other measures that were discussed were the issuance of government bonds to raise funds for the planned solidarity or reconstruction fund, "solidarity Saturdays", a measure under which companies would be able to donate their Saturday earnings to the fund, and subsidising interest rates for the purchase of new machinery and equipment.
Opposition leader Janez Janša said that the government was moving "in the right direction with a two-tier approach", meaning first preparing urgent measures and then a special relief bill.
Since massive floods devastated Slovenia two weeks ago, the relief effort has been in full swing, with volunteer clean-up campaigns, fundraising campaigns and international aid playing a huge role in helping the flood-stricken communities.