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Sunday, May 28, 2023

A Brussels Slap In The Face For The Golob Government – We Will Get €286 Million Less In Grants

By: Andrej Žitnik (Nova24tv)

The Janša government won us a staggering €1.7 billion in European Union grants from the EU’s Recovery and Resilience Fund during the Covid-19 crisis. But recently, we have gotten some unpleasant news from Brussels. The European Commission’s grant allocation has been reduced from €1.78 billion to a meagre €1.5 billion, based on the base year of 2021. In the meantime, the government has also frozen the implementation of the budget. Now, it is time to make cuts and to realise – it really does matter who is leading the government.

At a press conference, representatives of the Office for Recovery and Resilience (yes, we have a special office for that!) spoke about the adjustment of the Recovery and Resilience Plan after the country was left without €286 million in funding from the European Commission. From the originally planned €1.777 billion, Slovenia is now at €1.491 billion. The reason: less funds will be available in the post-Covid year due to more favourable macroeconomic conditions.

In the case of sustainable renovations of buildings, instead of 86 million, we will now get €20 million less. The same is true for flood risk reduction, digitisation of rail and road infrastructure, and co-financing of research and innovation projects, the MMC web portal reported.

“With €286 million of investments to be foregone, these milestones and the targets associated with these investments have been adjusted accordingly. However, the objective that at least 40 percent of the Recovery and Resilience Plan should be green, and 20 percent linked to digital objectives, still needs to be pursued, which is why the set of these projects has also been limited,” noted State Secretary at the Ministry of Finance, Saša Jazbec. She added that the estimated timeline for the completion of the projects is mid-2026.

The list of projects to be scrapped includes projects for which various ministries have assessed that they could not have been implemented within the timetable foreseen in the plan. The list will be coordinated with the public and the European Commission, Jazbec said at a press conference in Ljubljana. The list of starting points for the adjustment of the plan, as provided by the Ministry of Finance, includes 27 projects. These include:

– Elimination or reduction of funding for projects of making educational infrastructure in Slovenia greener (elimination of all the €71.6 million foreseen);
– drinking water supply and conservation (cut by €27 million to €6.7 million);
– sustainable renovations of buildings (cut by €20 million to €66.1 million);
– providing integrated care for people requiring higher levels of long-term care and more complex nursing services or continuing healthcare (all €20 million);
– optimising the accessibility of the healthcare system (cut by €18.1 million to €4.9 million);
– staff training and education projects (€14.4 million in total);
– co-financing of research and innovation projects in support of the green transition and digitisation (cut by €13.4 million to €51.6 million);
– support for decarbonisation, productivity and competitiveness of enterprises (cut by €10.1 million to €128.4 million);
– reduction of flood risk (cut by €10 million to €45 million);
– support for more flexible ways of organising work (€10 million in total);
– sustainable development of Slovenia’s tourist accommodation offers (cut by €10 million to €59 million);
– completed projects to support companies in their transition to a circular economy;
– strengthening cooperation between the education system and the labour market;
– digitisation of rail and road infrastructure;
– establishment of the National Institute of Nutrition;
– investments to increase energy efficiency in the economy;
– sustainable renovation and revitalisation of cultural heritage and public cultural infrastructure.

Why less funding?

Officially, Slovenia will receive less funding due to the improved macroeconomic picture and the inclusion of the REPowerEU objectives to reduce dependence on Russian energy. However, those who speak ‘Brussels speak’ will quickly see that these reasons are just an official front and that we will probably never actually know the real reasons for the cuts, but it is certainly worth noting that the Prime Minister was attacked in his speech in the European Parliament by the leader of the European Conservatives, Manfred Weber, in relation to the subjugation of the Slovenian media and the pro-Russia votes of MEPs from the current governing coalition. There are no coincidences in the European bureaucracy. Every word is recorded. Including Tanja Fajon‘s pro-Russia statements, which were gratefully published by the Russian regime media. The European bureaucracy works in such a way that every decision can be wrapped up in the cellophane of this or that macroeconomic development.

Important projects have been cut, and the money is being channelled to aviation and NGOs

The list shows that the government will remove some important investments. We are facing a healthcare collapse, and optimising the accessibility of the healthcare system and projects that would help with long-term care (which would at least be a small consultation after the Golob government pushed the regulation of long-term care indefinitely into the future) will not happen. On the other hand, the government has reallocated €5.6 million to Alenka Bratušek‘s new Ministry of Infrastructure, “to improve the level of air connectivity in Slovenia.” NGOs received as much as €40 million more than the year before. That is to say, we do not have enough funding for healthcare and long-term care, but there is enough money to subsidise the air travel of political apparatchiks to their favoured destinations.

Retention of funds from the budget

However, the government has decided to suspend the implementation of certain expenditures on integral items of the state budget starting Thursday. The government said that the retention of funds from the budget halted the reallocation of budgetary resources to take on new commitments for which the state’s adopted budget does not provide adequate amounts, except in the case of the allocation of the general budget reserve. The so-called independent constitutional bodies were excluded from this measure, and the uninterrupted absorption of European funds is continuing, as is the financing of the purposes foreseen in the adopted budget, including energy efficiency measures.

They further explained the budget’s suspension by saying that the government “reorganised the civil service this year.” With this, they were referring to the creation of five new ministries and changes in the competencies of existing ones – a measure for which they long claimed would cost the taxpayers nothing. Now the government is apparently struggling frantically to raise enough funds to feed its bloated apparatus.

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