The Slovenia Times

Govt Moves to Set Up State-Run Forest Management Company



Minister Dejan Židan told the press in Ljubljana on Wednesday that the coalition had agreed to send the draft bill on "Slovenski gozdovi" or Slovenian forests company into public debate already tonight or tomorrow morning.

"We are fighting a battle with time," he said, expressing hope the limited liability company will be launched as soon as possible so as to prevent further damage resulting from the damaged trees remaining in the forests for a longer period.

The government plans to take out a loan with the European Investment Bank to secure the start-up capital. While the business plan is not yet ready, Židan expects that between EUR 30m and EUR 40m will be needed.

He explained that the bulk of these funds would be used to buy up wood surpluses caused by the ice storm in order to prevent an excessive drop in prices.

Besides the market intervention, the purpose of the company will be a uniform management of state-owned forests, with the minister arguing that the present public-private model has proven inefficient.

The new rules will not interfere with the existing rights of the holders of management concessions. After the concessions expire in the first half of 2016, businesses will be able to compete in a public tender for work in state-owned forests.

The proposal stipulates that the company will be paying a management fee to the state amounting to 2% of the forests' value, meaning around EUR 10m annually, and half of its distributable profit.

The funds collected will be used to buy more forests (Židan argues the state owns too little now) as well as for measures related to forests and the environment, for Natura 2000 measures and for duties presently covered by the Slovenian Farmland and Forest Fund.

No additional hiring is planned for the new company, since a part of the Farmland and Forest Fund will be restructured for this purpose, while part of the tasks will also be taken over by the ministry. Only the Farmland Fund will remain of the present fund.


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