The Slovenia Times

PM Believes Budget Referendum Will Not Take Place


"I believe the National Assembly will send the (referendum) initiative to the Constitutional Court on Friday and the court will rule against the referendum that would block the country," he said.

A delay in the enforcement of the 2013 and 2014 budget implementation act is inevitable at this point and it will affect many people, as well as the drawing of millions from EU funds, the prime minister said.

Touching on the planned 5% cut in public sector wage bill, which is the reason for the referendum initiative, Janša said the reduction could be reached through attrition.

"Today, public sector pay cost us much more than it did before the crisis." He added that in the period when no new hirings have been allowed in the public sector, some 4,600 people were hired in education alone.

But the prime minister expressed optimism that Slovenia is now in a much better position than it had been half a year ago. The country has passed a supplementary budget and the pension reform, as well as the bad bank and sovereign holding laws.

The latter two are facing referenda and the prime minister hopes that the Constitutional Court will rule against the two votes. Once the two laws are enacted, only one key task will be left for Slovenia to tackle: the labour market reform, Janša said.

He said that Slovenia's labour market was the key complaint of foreign investors and the reason why they decide against investing in the country. Labour market reform could be adopted by February, he said.

"Slovenia will be exiting the crisis once the number of people employed by the private sector will start to increase, therefore the labour market reform is vital," said the prime minister.

When quizzed about the wish to sell state-owned NLB bank expressed by some coalition parties, Janša replied by asking the host whether she knew of any potential buyers. "The sale does not depend on politics but on the condition of the banks."

The condition of the banking system is Slovenia's key problem, said Janša. He believes that the central bank's report on the condition of the banks should be made available to the public.

He stressed that the bad loans that are the biggest problem had been given to only between 12 and 15 conglomerates. "They do not involve hundreds of companies, only some 10 or 20. From Sava to Merkur, SCT, the construction conglomerate owned by [opposition party leader Zoran] Janković, they drained hundreds of billions of euros in loans from state-owned banks without repaying them."

The prime minister also touched on the issue of lost referendum initiative signatures, over which Interior Minister Vinko Gorenak is being challenged by the opposition. Janša said there could be two reasons for the incident: sloppiness or that somebody wanted to hurt the coalition.


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