Parliament confirms latest stimulus law

Ljubljana, – The National Assembly passed in a 50:7 vote late on Tuesday the government’s latest economic stimulus package. Measures to help business and income support for households are valued at up to 600 million.

The legislation is designed to help companies fight the epidemic, preserve jobs, and ensure the survival of industries that cannot operate during the epidemic, Finance Minister Andrej Šircelj said.

The law includes a number of direct transfers to households, including a one-off allowance ranging from EUR 130 to EUR 300 for pensioners.

Stimulus payments of EUR 200 for employees making under twice the minimum wage and EUR 150 transfers to students are also among the provisions.

Farmers over 65 with income under EUR 591 will get EUR 150. Religious workers will get a basic income of EUR 700, plus their social security contributions will be covered by the state.

Several other social transfers will increase and all children born this year and up to one year after the formal end of the epidemic will get EUR 500.

Hourly pay for hospital and nursing home workers will increase by at least 30% through the end of 2021, and up to 65% for those working the most high-risk jobs.

For companies, special loans will be available from the state-owned SID Banka, while companies that suffered a revenue decline in excess of 70% will be eligible for aid of EUR 2,000 per employee in fixed costs, double the current amount.

There are also special provisions helping transport companies, rent assistance for companies, payment of rapid coronavirus tests for companies, and waiver of VAT on medical equipment needed to fight the epidemic.

The subsidised short-time working scheme has been extended until June 2021.

Several major provisions of the bill were changed during parliamentary procedure.

Most notably, the Democrats (SDS) and New Slovenia (NSi) did not succeed with a motion that would have excluded violators of epidemic-related restrictions from eligibility for stimulus aid.

The provision was proposed after the owner of the Krvavec ski resort defied government regulations and opened the resort.

The majority of MPs opined today that such a provision would be unconstitutional since it could lead to loss of stimulus funds for infractions such as not wearing a mask in the public.

Moreover, the abolition of a special-purpose fund for NGOs funded from household income tax was scrapped after an outcry by NGOs.

A related provision of the bill doubling the amount of personal income tax individuals may contribute to NGO to 1% of total income tax has been put in place.

Also in the NGO sector, firefighter associations, which have had significant income shortfall this year, will get one-off payments of EUR 2,000 – 4,500 depending on their formal status.

Another major provision allows employers to unilaterally terminate workers once they have met the formal conditions for retirement.

The provision was criticised by trade unions and doctors, who said it may be used for unjustified dismissals.

NSi deputy Jožef Horvat said the intention was not to terminate people, it was to give employers the chance to hire younger workers should they need them.

The provision was scrapped by the Finance Committee but was tabled once again and confirmed today.

The bill also includes a provision that unlocks funding for film projects, which has been suspended since the start of the epidemic.

Film funding has been held up for months despite repeated protests by film makers. The new provision would classify some films as projects of national importance whose financing does not require direct government consent.

And in a last-minute amendment by the coalition Modern Centre Party (SMC), the law mandates that public financing of the STA must resume within seven days after the law takes effect.