Long-term care, de-bureaucratisation bills coming to plenary session

Ljubljana – The National Assembly is meeting for the October plenary session on Monday to debate at first reading an omnibus bill on de-bureaucratisation and a long-awaited long-term care bill. Changes to pharmacy legislation and to the law on police work and organisation are also on the MPs’ agenda.

The de-bureaucratisation bill, billed as a major reform of red tape when drafted in spring, changes or annuls a number of laws to simplify administrative procedures.

The first segment of the bill changes 14 laws from several areas to for instance simplify registration of residence or mail delivery in administrative procedures.

The other segment annuls 207 laws and all by-laws based on them, including 18 Yugoslav federal laws.

It was to be debated last month, but the government changed it at eleventh hour to omit a cap on social security contributions for lack of support.

The introduction of a cap on social security contributions for monthly pay over EUR 6,000 gross was one of the key proposals in the bill advocated mainly by businesses.

In a bid to ease its passage, the government also omitted several other provisions because they would require a two-thirds majority.

The MPs will also debate a long-term care bill, which the government unveiled in August 2020 after several attempts failed in recent years, usually due to financing.

Since financing has also been one of the main concerns this time, the government opted for financing from the budget while planning to introduce a new contribution in a separate bill to be passed in 2024.

Annual long-term care financing is estimated at around EUR 745 million a year, as almost 70,000 people are expected to use the services in 2025.

Another government-sponsored bill on the agenda is one to change the organisation and work of the police act to bring clearer provisions governing the autonomy of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI).

Since the NBI is part of the Criminal Police Department, the government maintains its autonomy cannot be absolute, so the bill says NBI director reports directly to the Criminal Police Department’s head.

The changes also bring a solution banning police officers from being members of political parties or serving as mayors, deputy mayors or local councillors.

Another change says that if a former police officer is employed again in the police force, they can get the same rank and pay as before stopping working for the police.

The MPs will debate the coalition SMC-sponsored changes to pharmacy legislation which allow vertical integration of pharmacies and drug wholesalers.

A ban on vertical integration was legislated in 2016 under the SMC-led government but has not yet been fully implemented.

The bill is now coming to the plenary after a parliamentary committee tweaked provisions on vertical integration and scrapped most of the provisions which would liberalise the tightly regulated network of pharmacies.

Health Ministry State Secretary Alenka Forte said at the committee session the bill was a “harsh deputy-sponsored law that protects the interest of two city municipalities”. This refers to Maribor and Ljubljana and their wholesalers LL Grosist and Farmadent, respectively.

The deregulation solution had meanwhile strongly upset practically all pharmacy stakeholders. Some pharmacists had threatened with protest closures of pharmacies and a referendum, while other stakeholders had feared the legislation would result in pharmacies closures in rural areas.