The Slovenia Times

Opposition Wants Bigger Cuts in Public Spending


Andrej Šircelj of the opposition Democrats (SDS) said that the warnings from Brussels can be understood as a sign that a second supplementary budget would need to be adopted this year. This document would need to bring concrete cuts in spending, said Šircelj.

"Slovenia has been given another shot at fixing things, but I fear this is the last chance, as measures after this will be much harsher if Slovenia fails to consolidate public finances by October," Šircelj said.

This was echoed by the People's Party (SLS), whose deputy Mihael Prevc said the supplementary budget that is scheduled to be debated by parliament on Wednesday lacks ambition. He said the document fails to consolidate public finances, which is why it should be withdrawn from passage.

The SLS called on PM Alenka Bratušek to form a special working group made up of representatives of all parties which would draft a new supplementary budget for this year.

Matej Tonin of the opposition New Slovenia (NSi) meanwhile said that the government will not be able to avoid making cuts in the public sector if it is to please Brussels. He said the government was being overly selective in its measures.

PM Bratušek indicated already earlier in the day that the government was not preparing additional austerity measures for this year. This was echoed by coalition partners, who said that the measures adopted so far have not even had a chance to take effect.

Citizens List (DL) leader Gregor Virant, who is the interior minister, said that the supplementary budget proposed by the government would bring positive effects. He added that the pay cuts with the public sector have only been in effect for a few days.

"If these measures...had been in effect from the start of the year, we would have a doubling in the savings and would face a much easier task," he said in a reference to the failure of the previous government to reach agreement with the unions on pay cuts in the first three months of the year.

He added that further cuts could not be avoided, assessing that sticking to the promise to reduce the public sector was a key. But Virant added that fresh cuts in pay in the public sector were not being planned.

Meanwhile, Parliamentary Speaker Janko Veber said that the European Commission was being impatient because it "knew that Slovenia can handle the situation on its own". The SocDems representative added that the Commission was also aware that measures it proposed in the past were not well thought through.

Slovenia has a chance to show that these imprudent measures can be turned down. This was echoed by SD deputy Matjaž Han, who said he was confused by what he labelled as contradictory measures from Brussels.

The comments from Brussels are nothing new, as the European Commission is "coming up with some new ideas virtually every day". "European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso says one thing, European Economic and Monetary Affairs Commissioner Olli Rehn another thing," said Han.

Han stressed that he was aware that Slovenia depended on the EU, but stressed that the country had received a response to its Stability Programme only a month ago, while results could not be obtained so quickly.

Meanwhile, the coalition Pensioners' Party (DeSUS) reiterated its stance that it saw no more room for cutting public spending, especially not by cutting pensions. "We're against a cut in pensions, even if that comes at the price of no longer being in the coalition," DeSUS leader Karl Erjavec said.


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