Govt makes public national recovery and resilience plan, opposition calls for debate

Ljubljana – The government has declassified the draft national recovery and resilience plan after pressure from the opposition that a broad debate was required on the document. The parliamentary EU Affairs Committee discussed the plan on Friday, rejecting all recommendations from opposition parties.

Slovenia will be able to draw EUR 5.2 billion, including EUR 1.6 billion in grants from the EU mechanism for recovery and resilience envisaging EUR 312.5 billion in grants and EUR 360 billion in loans.

The money will be used to finance measures implemented between February 2020 and August 2026, meaning also retroactively. Instalments will be paid based on the reaching of qualitative and quantitative goals, which must be clearly set beforehand.

In line with the draft national recovery and resilience plan, which was declassified on Thursday, the government plans to tackle the problems of the labour market by financing more flexible forms of work, adjusting jobs conducted by people with disabilities to the more flexible forms of work and by enabling young people enter the labour market sooner.

In line with the green and digital transition policy, the government plans to introduce green jobs and digitalise production processes. It is counting on EUR 29 million in grants to achieve those goals.

A health reform is planned to optimise healthcare by strengthening the primary health security, especially through investing in the competences of nursing staff, and providing healthcare to people living in remote parts of the country.

The government also plans to invest in capacities for efficient treatment of contagious diseases, their monitoring and epidemic protocols. The total costs in this field are estimated at EUR 400 million, and EUR 202 million in grants are expected from the EU mechanism.

In social security and long-term care, the government plans to use EU grants to finance a reform of the long-term care system, whose costs have been estimated at EUR 99 million.

The reform envisages setting up of entry points for the long-term care system, a unified tool for assessing eligibility for the services, and new services that are currently not included in the services provided at home.

The government has been striving to improve access to services based on users’ needs, and access to integral forms of long-term care in the community, comprehensive treatment and integration of the health, social security and long-term care systems, and oversight over the quality of the services.

In the fiscal and financial system segment, the cabinet announced measures to improve access to the alternative sources of financing, including private funding, improve the efficiency of the tax system to provide support to business, and measures to integrate regulations on digital finances into national legislation. No cost estimate has been provided here.

The government would like to provide support to companies by encouraging investment with a special emphasis on de-privileged areas and by strengthening value chains in the supply of agricultural and food products.

It also plans to use grants and financial instruments provided by the SID exports and development bank, the Slovenian Enterprise Fund and the Regional Development Fund.

Slovenia is to receive EUR 187.7 million in grants and EUR 849.7 million in refundable funds in this field, with the government highlighting multiplicative effects of the measures.

The plans in sustainable and green transition are based on the National Energy and Climate Plan, with two main goals by 2030. The first is decarbonisation or increasing the use of renewable energy sources to at least 27% of total energy consumption by 2030 and the second is efficient energy use in all sectors.

The EU should chip in EUR 15 million in grants and EUR 100 million in refundable funds for this.

To promote sustainable mobility, the government plans to promote public transport, alternative fuels and investments in environmentally friendly traffic infrastructure, mainly railways. This should receive EUR 711.6 million in grants and EUR 1.5 billion in refundable funds.

Digitalisation efforts will include investing in digitalisation of the labour market and social affairs, spatial planning and the environment, healthcare, agriculture, food and forestry, culture and justice, for which the government expects EUR 344.5 million in grants and EUR 205.8 million in refundable funds.

The plan for education includes strengthening skills, especially digital skills, and meeting the needs of the economy. A training centre is to be set up for public administration and informal education is to be strengthened.

More money is to be invested in research and development and in transferring of know-how and technology to business. This area is to receive EUR 325.6 million in grants and EUR 179.2 million in refundable funds.

The government plans to overhaul the tourist sector to achieve a development breakthrough, and invest in cultural infrastructure, especially renovation and preservation of cultural monuments.

Offsetting the effects of the Covid-19 crisis in tourism will be crucial, as this sector has been hit the hardest, the government believes. It is counting on EUR 140 million in EU grants and EUR 200 million refundable funds.

Countries must allocate 37% of the money they receive for measures contributing to meeting green goals, and 20% for meeting digital goals. No measure must harm the environment.

The Slovenian government plans to allocate EUR 41% of the funds for renewable energy sources, efficient energy use and sustainable mobility, 34% for R&D and innovation and for raising productivity and attracting investment.

Eleven percent will go for digitalisation of the public sector, public administration and the economy and 10% for healthcare, social protection, long-term care and housing policy. 4% will be allocated to improving digital skills, Minister for Development, Strategic Projects and Cohesion Zvonko Černač told the parliamentary EU Affairs Committee, which discussed the plan today.

When a country sends its final plans to Brussels, the European Commission will have two months to evaluate it. Then the plan will have to be approved by the Council of the EU within a month. After that, a country can ask for 13% of pre-financing. The first national plans are expected to be confirmed in the spring.

During today’s debate on the committee, the opposition Marjan Šarec List (LMŠ), Social Democrats (SD), Left and the Alenka Bratušek Party (SAB) voiced criticism that the document had been drawn up in secrecy.

Černač rejected this, saying the procedures related to the national plan were extremely complex. He said the opposition had an insight into the document since 23 December 2020, noting a debate had been held on 29 January.

He said he had declassified the document after its contents had been leaked to a weekly, which published it. “The harm has been done and it cannot be repaired.”

“The document had been hidden from the public for too long, especially from other expert stakeholders. They should have played the most important role and primarily have the opportunity to co-create both the contents and priorities,” said Igor Peček from the LMŠ.

Andrej Rajh from the SAB said he would like to see a long-term strategy.

Left leader Luka Mesec was also very critical. He said the Covid-19 crisis would pass while another worse crisis would follow. “We have until 2030 to take decisive steps towards decarbonisation of our societies if we don’t want our ecosystems to be destroyed.

“You don’t want to hear science and the result is that you’ve brought us a national plan where your consideration does not go beyond working out how you will buy votes for the next election by shaking hands with mayors and cutting ribbons.”

The LMŠ, SD, SAB and the Left proposed recommendations to the draft plan but the committee rejected them.

SD head Tanja Fajon told the press today that a public debate could begin now that the plan had been declassified. The party hosted an online debate entitled Planning Decade of Development today, at which it presented its own strategy focussing on investment in development, green economy, solidarity and health.