Certain Issues Remain Open at Economy Ministry


Žerjav expressed surprise that the ministry did not have enough funds for the 15% state participation in EU projects, because "the money in Brussels is virtually the only potential…for the state to bring fresh money for investments to Slovenia".

He moreover stressed that the area of state aid to companies was burdened by open issues which will have to be addressed systematically.

In a reference to Foreign Minister Karl Erjavec's statement that economic diplomacy should not be transferred to Žerjav's ministry, he said that "the economy needs this leverage", especially at the time when exports and investments will be key to economic expansion of Slovenia.

Žerjav also touched on the construction of a new generator at the Šoštanj thermal power plant (TEŠ), which according to reports by the daily Delo has until Wednesday to tell French energy giant Alstom whether it wishes to continue with the project and needs a clear say from the government regarding its support.

While this will depend on the government, Žerjav's People's Party (SLS) believes that stopping the investment, which has, according to some estimations, so far cost some EUR 500m, would be uneconomical.

Žerjav personally does not believe that the investment will fall through, explaining that it will have to be determined whether to provide state guarantees for the project or find other solutions in line with the recently adopted changes to the energy act.

Žerjav, who will be in charge of inter-ministerial coordination for major projects, noted that major projects will require foreign partners to be launched.

He will try to change the relevant legislation as soon as possible so that investments will be able to run within deadlines comparable to certain other EU countries.

Later in today, Žerjav also took over the European cohesion policy and regional development sectors, which were previously under the Government Office for Local Government and Regional Policy, led by State Secretary Bojan Suvorov.

Žerjav stressed it was wise to have this area merged into the Economy Ministry to avoid problems of having issues spread over two different organisational units.

Žerjav still needs to take over other responsibilities which fall under his portfolio, including those at the Higher Education, Science and Technology Ministry and the Foreign Ministry.