By: Domen Mezeg / Nova24tv.si
“The Prime Minister has invited the opposition to participate during the crisis twice. Both times they refused to do so, and given that they refuse to cooperate, it is only logical that they are not involved in the design of this recovery and resilience programme,” the economist Matej Lahovnik responded to the accusations of the left wing opposition that the government is accepting the Plan for recovery and resilience behind closed doors and added: “After the unconstructive no confidence vote failed miserably, they are desperately looking for some new topics to problematize, and it is absurd to say how the money will be spent if the government has not yet harmonised the final version with the EC. They are already reproaching something that has not even happened yet.”
According to 24UR, the left wing opposition parties which – despite the failed enthronement of Karl Erjavec and the fiasco of their “constructive no confidence vote”, continue to unite in the KUL coalition with false hopes – presented their demands for convening an extraordinary session of the National Assembly related to the preparation of the national Plan for Recovery and Resilience at a press conference. Their demand is a broader and more in-depth discussion, in which they are accusing the government of adopting the government plan behind closed doors, and without a vision. It is also stated that the funds are over five billion euros, of which 1.5 billion are non-repayable and 3.6 billion are loans. According to the left wing, the government supposedly accepted the plan as a kind of internal document or in secret.
Renowned Slovenian economist Matej Lahovnik responded to the misleading claims, saying that “the left wing first rejects the Prime Minister’s invitation to participate, and then makes a political circus, because the government will adopt a plan for recovery and resilience without them.” The SDS also responded to the accusations of the left opposition. Klavdija Operčkal said that “Luka Mesec is shamelessly repeating the lie that the European Commission had rejected Slovenia’s Recovery Plan (NOO). It did not reject it because it could not even be formally filed yet. Work coordinations are underway, which will result in a quality plan that will address the key needs of Slovenia.”
“In the Office of the Government of the Republic of Slovenia for Development and European Cohesion Policy, which coordinates the preparation of the national Plan for Recovery and Resilience, we see the request to convene a session of the National Assembly of the Republic of Slovenia as an opportunity to exchange views on our common future as well as the possibility to finally refute all untruths and manipulations that appear in public regarding this document. Unfortunately, also at today’s press conference of the proposers of the session,” the Office of the Government of the Republic of Slovenia for Development and European Cohesion Policy wrote.
According to them, the Plan for Recovery and Resilience has received a wide exchange of views with over 2,000 stakeholders in recent months, including mayors, directors of regional development agencies, members of councils and development councils of all 12 development regions, members of both cohesion regions, and at the same time it has been discussed several times at the European Social Council.
The plan is still in the process of being harmonised, but is also expected to cover much-needed investments in health care, which have been neglected by left wing governments.
Many businessmen and NGOs also took part in the consultation. Furthermore, the website of the Government of the Republic of Slovenia explains that the “Plan” is with annexes of internal nature, because it is still in the process of harmonisation. “The technical requirements of the European Commission (EC) regarding the structure of the document are also changing (last on January 22nd, 2021). Since the approval of the draft, the government has announced the programme priorities, the main content starting points, and the structure of planned funds by areas and sub-areas, where the orientation of 37% for “green” and 20% for “digital” is taken into account. There are also no concrete projects at the local level in the plan.” It is also stated that they will be selected through public tenders, and there are some key projects at the national level, including new infection clinics in Ljubljana and Maribor, investments in railway infrastructure, in the field of social protection, digitalisation, energy, and construction projects. As they say, it is also a lie to claim that the plan has already been rejected twice by the European Commission.
“It was only last week that the Regulation was adopted to establish an instrument for recovery and resilience, which allows Member States to formally submit plans to the certification procedure. The deadline expires on April 30th, 2021.” According to the Government of the Republic of Slovenia, the EC has not yet considered any of the Member States’ plans, as they cannot be submitted to a formal procedure until the Decree on the Establishment of a Recovery and Resilience Mechanism enters into force in a few days. For additional explanations we turned to Mr. Lahovnik. We were interested in how he comments on the accusations from the left that the government is adopting the Plan for recovery and resilience in secret, and that it is a visionless plan or that the money will not be spent on realising the vision for a greener and more digital Slovenia, and how he comments on allegations that the government supposedly has not set priorities, as the European Commission has pointed out.
The process of coordination between the Slovenian government and the European Commission is quite normal, and takes place in all EU member states
“It is not true that the opposition was not invited. The Prime Minister has invited the opposition to participate during the crisis twice. Both times they refused, and given that they refuse to cooperate, it is completely logical that they are not involved in the design of this programme on recovery and resilience,” Lahovnik said in the introduction. As for the attitude of the European Commission, he added that it is a completely common and normal process of coordination. It should be especially emphasised that this is one of the largest recovery programmes after the Second World War, even one that is comparable to the Marshall Plan. That is why the process of coordination between the Slovenian government and the European Commission is something completely normal, common, and which is also taking place in all other EU member states. “Only in Slovenia a political circus is emerging from this, trying to create the impression that the European Commission is rejecting a proposal that, in its formal final form, has not been submitted at all.”
“With two invitations of the prime minister, the opposition was obviously afraid to take responsibility for the measures, and if you are afraid to take responsibility, then it is logical that you cannot have the power to decide on that. It seems bizarre to me that they want to decide on the division of money, but they would not take responsibility for the measures.” At the same time, he emphasised that they did not want to be involved from the very beginning. Even in the process of negotiations with the EC, they did not contribute what they could have, but even when there was a complication, during the negotiations in Brussels in July on the conditionality of the absorption of these funds, which the EC wanted to introduce, they did not play too constructive a role. “They seem to be slightly disoriented. Given that the Prime Minister has invited them to participate twice which they have publicly refused; these allegations are now quite unusual. Are they confused, are they forgetful, or do they just want to annoy and destroy,” Lahovnik was clear. “This Plan for Recovery and Resilience includes breakthroughs in various fields, not only in the field of digitalisation and green recovery, but in this context Slovenia has a plan for one of the most ambitious health investment programmes.”
The “unconstructive no confidence vote” has failed miserably for the KUL coalition, so it is desperately looking for new topics to problematize
“In the last ten years, we have not built a single home for the elderly from public sources, nor a single nursing hospital.” It is logical that the government is trying to make up for this backlog. At the same time, it is logical that these projects have priorities, i.e. health care, nursing homes, nursing hospitals, investments in development information infrastructure, digitalisation, while some other programmes preferred by the left opposition will have to wait for other times. In the last ten years, we have been able to see that money has been invested in various studies or research on stereotypes between the elderly and adolescents, etc. On the other hand, no investment has been made in building infrastructure that really benefits both young and old, and now this development deficit will need to be made up for. “After the unconstructive no confidence vote has failed miserably, they are desperately looking for some new topics to problematize, and it is absurd to say how the money will be spent if the government has not yet harmonised the final version with the EC. They are already reproaching something that has not even happened yet.”