Govt adopts European semester docs, leaves things open for new cabinet

Ljubljana/Brussels – The government adopted and forwarded to the European Commission on Thursday the Stability Programme and the National Reform Programme for 2022. Citing the recent general election and major uncertainty in light of the Ukraine war, it inserted no new measures in the plans, deciding to leave these to the forthcoming cabinet.

Finance Minister Andrej Šircelj told the press that the two key documents of the European semester had been adopted in times of major economic, financial and security uncertainty, which was only being exacerbated.

“We use to talk about a crisis coming every five of ten years, now we have a new crisis every six months,” Šircelj said, adding it was hard to predict how quickly and in what manner things would pan out.

The stability programme, which was adopted with a delay, only includes a scenario of unchanged policies. The absence of newly defined measures is in line with past practice in cases of a pending general election or a caretaker government.

According to Šircelj, the programme follows the guidelines of institutions like the IMF and the European Commission.

It also takes into account that the Institute of Macroeconomic Analysis and Development (IMAD) has downgraded its growth forecast for Slovenia for this year from 4.7% to 4.2%.

The currently projected trends entail the deficit of the general government sector amounting to 4.1% in 2022 and 2.97% in 2023. The deficit should continue to decrease, falling to 1.7% in 2025.

Public debt is also projected to decrease continuously, to 68% of GDP by 2025, show ministry data.

“If we’re talking about individual fiscal segments, I can says that both the health and the pension funds are stable,” Šircelj asserted.

Meanwhile, the 2022 national reform programme features an overview of key measures, reforms and investment plans adopted in the recent period. Šircelj said that whichever government takes over, changes would be needed when it comes to pensions, healthcare, long-term care, the green transition and digitalisation.

The minister said the most sensitive topic at present was inflation and monetary policy, which is in the domain of the European Central Bank.

Asked again about Slovenia’s gas payments to Russia and whether the country would agree to paying in roubles, Šircelj said the state directly does not pay for gas. This is done by the buyers through the financial system and this is where the West’s sanctions against Russia are in place.

“I think Slovenia needs to pay for this gas in the framework of the legal order, which also includes sanctions,” he said.