Opposition not in disagreement with cost-of-living measures planned by govt

Ljubljana – Political leaders and energy professionals met for a cost-of-living meeting on Wednesday, after which Prime Minister Robert Golob listed several measures the government is to adopt before autumn, including VAT cuts and gas price regulation. He described the meeting as constructive, while opposition leaders indicated support.

“We need to act swiftly and decisively to protect the most vulnerable groups with targetted measures, while at the next stage we must not forget the business sector and make sure the economy does not come to a standstill,” said Golob.

Energy experts also attended the meeting, presenting the strategy of the European Commission and European gas distributors on how to get through winter without reductions even if the supply of Russian gas is disrupted.

“This plan is crucial because it provides guidelines for member states to prepare so that users will not be left without gas,” said Golob.

The government plans to draft emergency measures, which are to be presented to the opposition at the next meeting, expectedly at the end of August.

The legislative changes will put all household energy users in equal position, because currently there are substantial differences in prices between those who buy gas from a distributor and flat owners, who are forced to buy it from the companies managing their building.

The emergency changes will also cap VAT for all fuels. “Not only electricity and gas, but also heating oil, wood biomass and such,” said Golob.

“Because no disagreements were expressed, I expect the bills to be adopted in a fast-track procedure,” added Golob.

On Thursday, the government is expected to introduce gas price regulations, capping the prices for households, small companies and public institutions.

Also on Thursday, the government will approve a EUR 9 million package of one-off aid for the poor, the Minister of Labour, Family, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities Luka Mesec said earlier in the day.

Talking to the press after the meeting, opposition Democrats (SDS) leader Janez Janša said the meeting had been useful because experts in economy and energy presented concrete data and forecasts for the future.

He said that neither the SDS and nor the opposition New Slovenia (NSi) “never did nor will oppose measures which will actually help people, the business sector and agriculture,” adding that the concrete government measures would have to be checked whether they actually do that.

The measures presented by the government today were not contentious, said Janša. “But much of what we heard from the government was framed as dilemmas. Dilemmas about whether to address the cost-of-living through taxes or subsidies. Everybody was avoiding the words energy voucher and cost-of-living voucher.”

Janša also believes that the government should be more active in the summer. “We are well into the second phase of this cost-of-living crisis, which is only becoming more severe with inflation. But no rush can be felt nor pressure” from the media.

NSi head Matej Tonin was happy with the meeting, describing the debate as constructive. “I believe we put together some constructive proposals on how to address the challenges ahead.” He also believes that this sort of cooperation should be continued.