Ljubljana – The Justice Ministry will see its budget cut by almost a fourth in the revised budget for 2022 to EUR 91.6 million, which the relevant parliamentary committee heard on Wednesday was due to delays in three major investments.
Justice Ministry State Secretary Sebastjan Zbičajnik told MPs the revised budget proposal was in line with the ministry’s estimate of spending realisation by the end of the year.
The reason for the cut was delayed projects to build a new Ljubljana court house, renovate the women’s prison in Ig and build a new men’s prison in Dobrunje.
The only MP to speak out was Dejan Kaloh of the opposition Democrats (SDS), who raised several questions, including why funds were being cut for nine courts, including higher courts in Ljubljana, Maribor, Koper and Celje, and the Celje District Court.
He also wondered why funds were being reduced for free legal aid at the Maribor District Court and how much the final price tags would be on the new prisons and the Ljubljana court house.
Zbičajnik said the reasons for the delays in investments varied. In the case of the Ljubljana court house, a review of the call for project applications delayed the project by more than half a year. In the case of Ig prison the only bid submitted exceeded the budget for the project so the call would have to be repeated and the reason for the delay in the case of Dobrunje prison was a late building permit.
Meanwhile, Vladimir Horvat, the head of the Judicial Council, answered Kaloh’s first question by saying he had been assured by the Supreme Court President Damijan Florjančič that the funds budgeted for courts in the supplementary budget were sufficient.
The Judicial Council will have to give up two new employees and postpone the purchase a videoconferencing system due to limited funds this year, however, the Judicial Council believes the revised budget covers “all the urgent needs of the Judicial Council”, said Horvat.