Municipality funding act amended over Roma settlements and IT

Ljubljana – The National Assembly voted 67 to eight on Wednesday to amend the financing of municipalities act in order to secure additional funds to municipalities with Roma settlements, and money for IT services provided by joint administrations of several municipalities.

The changes concern a solution that had already been included in the municipal costs reduction act where municipalities with registered Roma settlements were provided with an additional funding of 3.5% of their eligible expenditure.

Public Administration Ministry State Secretary Urška Ban said the law now sets out clearly the increased funds are because those municipalities have higher costs, related to the maintenance of infrastructure. These being appropriations, the municipalities do not need to report on the use of those funds.

The amendments also expand the list of tasks performed by joint administrations of several municipalities that are co-funded from the state budget to IT. The state will thus help boost the municipalities IT-wise as they provide new services to the residents, said Ban.

In the debate, the ruling Democrats (SDS) welcomed that the funds are an appropriation for municipalities with Roma settlements, which means they will be able to decide autonomously how to spend the money.

The coalition New Slovenia (NSi) noted that so far the law was open to misinterpretation that the funds were intended mainly for the Roma population and in some cases they were distributed to Roma households to subsidise their water and power bills.

Likewise, the coalition Modern Centre Party (SMC) argued the new solutions would clarify municipality financing and thus pave the way for development of communities with Roma settlements and speed up digitalisation of municipal administrations.

Meanwhile, the opposition questioned the selection of municipalities eligible for funds with the Marjan Šarec List (LMŠ) and National Party (SNS) arguing only municipalities with a Roma councillor should be eligible rather than those with registered Roma settlements.

The Alenka Bratušek Party (SAB) said some of the municipalities with Roma settlements had been left out, such as Maribor. The SocDems said there were 25 municipalities with registered Roma settlements.

The Left deems the bill and its adoption procedure unacceptable as the Roma community act stipulates the opinion of the Roma community council should be sought when amending legislation affecting Roma, something they said the government failed to do.