The Slovenia Times

Cabinet nearly complete as two ministers appointed

Prime Minister Robert congratulates Jože Novak on being appointed minister of natural resources. Photo: Katja Kodba/STA

The National Assembly appointed new ministers of public administration and natural resources on 7 December to fill two of three posts made vacant in the Robert Golob government following the departure of three ministers in early October.

Franc Props, a 60-year-old economist who has so far served as an MP for the Freedom Movement of PM Golob, was appointed public administration minister to succeed Sanja Ajanović Hovnik, who resigned amidst a scandal over an open call for the funding of NGOs.

The new minister of natural resources and spatial planning is Jože Novak, a landscape architect who was appointed state secretary at the ministry in October after the previous minister, Uroš Brežan was forced to resign due to what Golob described as insufficient post-flood relief efforts.

Addressing MPs before the vote, Prime Mister Robert Golob described the two candidates as experts with a wealth of experience.

"They are experienced professionals who have spent their entire careers alternating between the private sector and the public administration. They have a good knowledge of the functioning and structure of both systems," Golob said.

Franc Propos speaks to reporters after being appointed minister of public administration. Photo: Katja Kodba/STALjubljana

Franc Props, a 60-year-old economist Props headed the Litija Administrative Unit before joining the Freedom Movement almost two years ago and being elected MP. He started his career as a labourer in manufacturing and studied part-time to then rise to the top of SPL, a building management company.

He also had a brief stint as a secretary at the office of the environment minister in 2010, and in 2011 he was an acting director of the Institute for Water.

In addition to serving as state secretary Novak has held a number of roles associated with spatial planning, including as director of the National Spatial Planning Institute, state secretary at the Ministry of the Environment and Spatial Planning and director of the National Housing Fund.

He managed reform of real estate tax at the Finance Ministry and, most recently, worked at the spatial planning department of the state-owned civil engineering and consultancy company DRI.

Golob and some of the stakeholders have praised Novak's work on the post-flood reconstruction as state secretary so far, which will be his main priority as minister.

Jože Novak speaks to reporters after being appointed minister of natural resources. Photo: Katja Kodba/STA

After being sworn in, Novak reiterated that his priority would be helping those who lost their homes in the August floods and improving long-term flood protection and water management.

He expects his team at the ministry will manage to reduce red tape to a point where improvements will also be felt by citizens.

In his hearing in parliament, he also listed strengthening climate resilience as one of his priorities.

Meanwhile, Props pledged to improve work conditions in the public sector and simplify procedures. However, he said pay talks with the public sector unions must take into account fiscal constraints.

He intends to advocate "a holistic approach" that includes better job training, promotion of innovation and flexibility, and better overall work conditions.

In his statement after being sworn in he pledged that the negotiations with public sector trade unions will be "intense," but added that this did not depend on the government alone.

While coalition MPs hailed the two nominees as experienced and trustworthy, the opposition Democrats (SDS) said they were not impressed by what they heard at the hearings. Meanwhile, the other opposition party, New Slovenia (NSi) said that Novak had a good presentation.

"You can tell that he is an expert in this field, he said some very specific things regarding post-flood reconstruction and he is aware of the importance of prevention in this field," NSi MP Vida Čadonič Špelič said.

Still, neither of the opposition parties voted in favour with the NSi saying the reason was it does not support the current government. The ministers were endorsed by 49 votes in favour and 26 against.

With the appointment of the two ministers, the post of agriculture minister still remains to be filled. PM Golob is expected to nominate a candidate shortly.


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