Parliament endorses investment-boosting budget documents for 2022-23

Ljubljana – The National Assembly has passed investment-oriented budget documents for the next two years under which the deficit is to be reduced from EUR 4 billion this year to EUR 2.47 billion in 2022 and EUR 1.52 billion in 2023, although opposition MPs and the Fiscal Council have expressed doubt this is realistic.

The budget documents were drawn up in extraordinary circumstances of gradual recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic but also continued high costs associated with the outbreak, with Finance Minister Andrej Šircelj noting growth in investment supported by EU funds.

The overall expenditure for 2022 is budgeted at EUR 13.94 billion, which is to be reduced to EUR 13.36 billion in 2023. This compares to just under EUR 15 billion estimated by the Finance Ministry for this year.

Meanwhile, growth is planned on the revenue side, with EUR 11.47 billion in receipts planned in 2022 and EUR 11.84 billion the year later.

This should allow for the deficit to be reduced to 4.6% of GDP in 2022 and 2.6% in 2023, even though departure from the strict fiscal rules will continue to be allowed for next year at least.

During the budget debate this week, Minister Šircelj pointed to the increase in investment aimed at stimulating the economy’s recovery and resilience. Over EUR 2.2 billion is earmarked for investments over the next two years, compared to a little over EUR 900 million in each of 2019 and 2020.

Meanwhile, the centre-left opposition criticised the increased spending and what they see as excessive deficit in the election year 2022. They pointed to the Fiscal Council’s assessment that the planned expenditure for 2022 was overestimated and opened room for opaque spending, while the expenditure for 2023 was underestimated.