Ministry denies reports about drafting of construction act changes

Ljubljana – The Environment Ministry said on Wednesday it had drafted amendments to the construction act itself and had not hired a law firm to do it, as media had reported. It also denied reports that the amendments are tailored to an MP from the Pensioners’ Party (DeSUS) to legalise a house he has illegally built on the coast.

The response comes after the web portal of POP TV reported last week that the Environment Ministry had outsourced the drafting of the amendments to the construction act, which will be on the parliament’s agenda this month, to the Neffat Law Firm.

It said the law firm represented DeSUS MP Branko Simonovič, and that he would be able to apply these amendments to legalise a house he has illegally built on the coast.

The commercial television station added that the law firm had been contracted by the ministry after Minister Andrej Vizjak disbanded a ministry department that served as its in-house legal service.

Rejecting the reports, the ministry said Neffat had written neither the changes to the construction act nor the spatial management act. It added that a minister’s decree setting up a task force for drafting the legislative changes proved this.

The web portal reported last week that the ministry had noted it had invited two potential bidders to submit their bids and that Neffat had been the most cost-efficient, so a contract had been concluded with the firm to provide legal support in the drafting of regulations on spatial planning and construction.

The ministry rejected today any connections between the reorganisation at the ministry and the drafting of the amendments, saying that the disbanded department had never acted as the ministry’s legal service.

It added that the argument that the amendments are tailored to the needs of an individual MP were refuted by article 117 of the existing law, which has allowed for the possibility of legalisation.

The solutions proposed in the amendments upgrade the system that has been in force since the 2018 changes to the construction act and bring no significant deviations. The solutions equally apply for all real estate owners in the country, it added.

The amendments indeed change the cut-off year for legalisation of buildings, but the basis for this was an initiative from the Chamber of Architecture and Spatial Planning, and the two associations of municipalities. The associations assessed that most of illegal buildings were built in 1995-2004, so they proposed 2005 as the cut-off year, the ministry said.