The Slovenia Times

Public to Get Insight into Operations of State-Owned Companies


The motion is currently in procedure of inter-ministerial coordination and will be adopted by the government by September, Interior Minister Gregor Virant told a presentation in Ljubljana on Thursday, upbeat about the motion's chances to get passed.

The changes have already been presented to some of the deputy factions in parliament and there have been no objections so far, Virant told the event, which also featured representatives of the Information Commissioner and the Commission for the Prevention of Corruption, among others.

Currently, state bodies, municipalities and other public law entities are liable under the freedom of information act.

This would now extend to include companies and other legal entities directly or indirectly majority owned or controlled by the state, municipalities and other public law entities such as institutes.

Such companies would thus have to provide access to basic information about the transactions related to asset management or expenses, information about the amount of earnings and bonuses agreed and paid out and certain data concerning the appointment of executive staff.

The motion would also set up a registry of entities liable under the freedom of information act and a centralised data base on payment transactions of state-owned companies.

The main purpose of the proposal is to enhance transparency and responsibility in the management of public finances and to increase transparency of how companies and institutions owned by the state operate.

"This is a segment that is much less governed by the rules as the state administration proper," Virant said, rejecting the concern that transparency would hurt the market position of state companies or their business partners.

"The reform act is written in such a way that it can do no harm to the companies. They will only have to disclose basic elements of contracts, which is the only thing of interest to the public," the minister said.

The changes were hailed as a big step forward by the Commission for the Prevention of Corruption, while Information Commissioner Nataša Pirc Musar, who was involved in the preparation of the motion, underscored that the principle of broader transparency needed to be introduced at majority state-owned companies.

Meanwhile, media expert Marko Milosavljevič of the Faculty of Social Sciences expressed concern over the slow pace at which the changes are being adopted. But he welcomed the proposal to increase transparency and oversight of para-state companies, which he called a "hotbed of corruption".

The proposal was also hailed by the Journalists' Association (DNS), which said that information on the operations and cash flows of companies owned by the state or municipalities was definitely in the interest of the public, especially in light of wrongdoing and corruptive practices disclosed by the media in recent years.


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