Vraničar Erman appointed finance minister

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After being sworn in Vraničar Erman thanked MPs for the trust they placed in her, pledging to work hard with all her team for "the prosperity of Slovenia and its citizens".

"I'm aware that I'm taking over the task at a very sensitive time when expectations are huge and realistic possibilities must be weighed up from day to day."

Vraničar Erman has formally taken over at the Finance Ministry, reiterating that she would continue on the planned course of action because she believed sustainable public finances were the basis of good business environment and as such stable and sustainable economic growth.

Having served as state secretary for the past six years, except for a gap year when the Janez Janša government was in power, the 50-year-old appeared as an obvious choice to succeed Dušan Mramor after his unexpected resignation in mid-July.

In address to parliament before the vote, Prime Minister Miro Cerar said that Vraničar Erman had a wealth of experience that would allow her to immediately get to work and continue implementing government policy.

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He repeated that after the vote, as he told reporters that the the minister understood that he wanted orderly public finances and development-oriented policies and that he believed "she will be absolutely equal to the task".

"We have regained economic sovereignty, and reputation, we have reduced the general government deficit, slowed down the trend of increase in public debt, we must continue in this direction and I expect that from the new minister."

Similar points were made by coalition deputy groups, which said that Vraničar Erman had sufficient know-how and experience, although the junior coalition partners indicated they would want her to be less austere than her predecessor.

Her indication that she would resume the policies of her predecessor, was on the other hand the very reason for criticism coming from the opposition benches. Some also indicated that she lacked political experience or power to say no to demands from coalition partners.

In her hearing before the relevant parliamentary committee last week, Vraničar Erman pledged to pursue policies aimed at boosting growth, including through higher spending on projects with spillover effects.

She also promised a prudent phasing-out of austerity measures, a restrictive policy on public sector pay, continued privatisation and steps to increase efficiency in the management of state equity stakes.

Born in Škofja Loka on 7 November 1965, Vraničar Erman graduated from the Ljubljana Faculty of Law in 1989 before earning a master's degree in public administration from Harvard University in 1997.

Her first employment in 1989 was with the Foreign Ministry, where she worked on the regulatory framework for the launch of Slovenia's customs office upon the declaration of independence and for external trade.

She switched to the Finance Ministry in 1993, where she again worked for units in charge of creation of the customs and tax systems, while she also participated in negotiations on free trade agreements.

She was first appointed state secretary in April 2010 under Social Democrat Finance Minister Franci Križanič and went on serve at the post under two left-leaning governments, including the incumbent one.

As state secretary she was mostly responsible for taxes and customs, budget and public accounting. She had been involved in the drafting of a series of bills, including the real estate tax which was quashed by the Constitutional Court in the spring of 2014.

A renewed attempt at introducing the tax will be one of her priorities as minister. A draft bill on mass evaluation of real estate has been submitted for public consultation, while a bill on real estate tax is expected to be ready by the end of the year.

In her hearing in parliament Vraničar Erman said that the lesson she learned from the first attempt at the tax "is that in some projects, speed is less important and that you should take more time for cooperation with the stakeholders".

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