The Slovenia Times

Huge Cuts in Supplementary Budget

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The blueprint was subsequently confirmed at Thursday's session by the cabinet, which tasked ministries to work with the Finance Ministry in preparing new spending plans by 6 June. The government wants the supplementary budget to be passed by 15 July.

The Government Communication Office said the supplementary budget will target a budget deficit of EUR 1.5bn for this year.

In addition to adopting the blueprint, the government also decided to suspend budget implementation by freezing all new liabilities beyond those set down in the baseline plan adopted as part of the blueprint.

While the government did not provide figures in the spending framework adopted as part of the blueprint, statements by at least two cabinet members indicate that the government is proposing hefty spending cuts.

Foreign Minister Karl Erjavec, speaking to reporters ahead of the government session, said the ministry might as well be closed down if the proposed 20% cut should go through.

Still, Erjavec said that the issue would be on the cabinet's agenda today and that the cut agreed was likely to be slightly lower. The proposal is to cut the Foreign Ministry's budget to EUR 66m from EUR 84m.

The minister said he was aware spending reduction was necessary, but that it should be done where possible. "We need to decide whether to close down the Foreign Ministry or find a compromise solution."

Education Minister Jernej Pikalo was equally concerned: If the proposed cuts affecting the department are implemented, it will be impossible to avoid reducing standards and increasing norms.

"This would be an extremely bad message to children and all of us who aspire for development and scientific breakthrough of this country", said Pikalo, who would not speak about figures until they are final.

A warning against any kind of change to standards and norms was issued by the head of the teachers' union SVIZ Branimir Ċ trukelj, who said further cuts on top of what had already been agreed would result in an "open conflict with the unions".

Earlier this week, parliament endorsed cuts in the public sector wage bill agreed between the government and trade unions under which pay of 155,000 public employees would be cut by 0.5-5%.

The government decided last week to adopt a supplementary budget by 15 July at the latest, until which time spending is restricted.

The budget shortfall amounted to EUR 962m in the first four months of the year alone, just slightly below the 1bn planned for the whole year.
 

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