The Slovenia Times

Coalition Looking for a Way Out of the Budget Hole


Tensions have been running high in the coalition recently over the Citizens' List (DL) categorical rejection of the initial plan to patch up the budget hole with an increase of value added tax.

Making matters even worse was the lack of clear support from the senior coalition Positive Slovenia (PS) for DL head Gregor Virant in Friday's vote on the opposition motion to oust him as interior minister.

The PS boycotted the vote, allowing it to end in 39-23 in favour of the motion but at the same time making sure it fell seven votes short of the required absolute majority in the 90-seat National Assembly.

Friday's session of parliament was moreover marked by the surprise announcement by PS leader Alenka Bratušek, the prime minister, that she would soon subject her government to a vote of confidence in parliament.

Bratušek however also appeared to extend an olive branch of sorts to the DL - which had warned that a failure to endorse Virant outright would force them to rethink their position in government - by saying that the VAT hike was off the table.

Today's meeting is thus expected to focus on other possible measures, with Virant saying recently that there was still room for saving in the public sector.

Being mentioned unofficially are a EUR 50m cut in subsidies for companies, EUR 50m in savings with reallocations among ministries, EUR 10m in additional revenue with excise tax increase for alcohol and tobacco, and EUR 20-30m extra revenue resulting from a higher real estate transactions tax.

Pensioners' Party (DeSUS) head Karl Erjavec expressed grave concern about the situation in the coalition yesterday, saying that Sunday's meeting could bring anything, including a decision for another early election "because the situation is quite complicated".

Erjavec, who is expected to fiercely opposed any cuts involving pensioners, argued that the coalition could also be in peril even if an agreement is reached today.

He mentioned the allegedly unstable situation in the ruling PS, which could soon hold a congress at which Bratušek will be challenged as leader by corruption-tainted PS-founder Zoran Janković, the mayor of Ljubljana.


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