MPs reject merger of eight regulators

Ljubljana – In a 46:42 vote, MPs rejected on Friday the government’s proposal to merge eight major regulators into two agencies, as the majority of opposition MPs criticised the government for wanting to subjugate oversight institutions.

Under a bill the government adopted last October, a new agency for market and consumers would absorb the Energy Agency, Agency for Communication Networks and Services, Competition Protection Agency, Traffic Safety Agency, Civil Aviation Agency and Railway Transport Agency.

The new agency would regulate the energy and telecommunications markets, postal services, media and audiovisual services, and all forms of transport, while also supervising mergers and takeovers, and competition and consumer protection.

The Securities Market Agency and the Insurance Supervision Agency would meanwhile be merged into a new public agency for financial markets, which would also take over some of the powers from the central bank.

Economy Ministry State Secretary Simon Zajc told MPs today the bill was meant to bring about a more systemic and comprehensive approach to the market and its stakeholders, arguing the merger would enhance efficiency and independence.

This did not convince the opposition, which believes this is part of the government’s drive to subjugate various subsystems in the country.

The Left’s Nataša Sukič said “it is quite obvious this merger would bring less oversight and it’s also obvious the government wants to make these institutions decide along political lines. It’s easier to direct two super-agencies than eight independent ones”.

While admitting that Pensioners’ Party (DeSUS) MPs do not have a unified stance, Robert Polnar said the government was taking on a creative reconstruction of an important segment of the public sector.

Alenka Bratušek from the SAB criticised the proponents of the bill for lacking an analysis of the effects of the merger.

Coalition MPs supported the bill, with Marko Pogačnik from the ruling Democrats (SDS) saying he “is convinced that mergers bring … more positive than negative things”.

The Modern Centre Party (SMC) said the merger would create many synergies, with Dušan Verbič stressing the two agencies would bring a better and more efficient service.

Suzana Lep Šimenko from the SDS urged the opposition MPs to back the bill at first reading and then propose amendments at second reading to improve it.