New stimulus package subject to substantial criticism

New stimulus package subject to substantial criticism

The government's third stimulus package, adopted on Wednesday, and in particular the decision to discontinue subsidies for temporary redundant workers, have drawn a lot of criticism. Representatives of the tourism and hospitality sector argue the package does too little, while a number of other sectors feel let down.

 

Representatives of tourism and hospitality, a key segment addressed by the third package through tourism vouchers and short-time work subsidies, say the government's measures fell short of expectations, failing to cut VAT in the sector and to allow vouchers to also be for services other than accommodation.

While welcoming the short-time work subsidies, the centrepiece of the new stimulus measures that is secured for all sectors, the industry's representatives at the Chamber of Small Business (OZS) are disappointed with the government's decision to scrap the state coverage of unemployment allowance for temporary redundant workers.

"The sector will be in a crunch for several more months since there will be no tourists, which is why this measure should be extended by the end of 2020 and not only by a month," they wrote even though tourism and hospitality is the only sector that got a prolongation at all.

While Economy Minister Zdravko Počivalšek indicated today that the car industry would be included as well, the OZS said the government had ignored its call to extend this measure to all affected sectors, with exporters in particular seeing major drops in orders for the coming three months.

"In such cases subsidies short-time work are not a sufficient solution, as there is simply not enough work," the chamber's president Branko Meh wrote.

While pointing to the problem of rents that companies need to also pay for the time when production is shut down, the OZS listed many more groups that are struggling with a slump in orders and revenue, among them bus operators, catering companies and event organisers.

The event organisers, cooperating within the Slovenian Meetings Industry, cried foul in a separate statement saying that the sector employed around 15,000 people with another 20,000 creatives being dependent on it. They feel that around 2,000 jobs are in peril directly and 6,500 indirectly.

Meanwhile, the head of the Pergam trade union confederation Jakob Počivavšek welcomed the short-time work subsidies scheme and the safeguards built into it, while he also expressed disappointment about the scrapping of the unemployment allowances for workers waiting to return to work.

Počivavšek, who argues conditions for eligibility and the monitoring of the measure should have been stepped up instead, said that prolonging it only for some sectors constituted unjustified preferential treatment.

He criticised the package for containing provisions that he feels should not be part of emergency legislation and have nothing to do with the epidemic. He highlighted the monitoring of direct foreign investment the elimination of a large part of NGOs from procedures involving construction permits.

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