the Government of the Republic of Slovenia paid a working visit to the Osrednjeslovenska Region which comprises the municipalities of Borovnica, Brezovica, Dobrepolje, Dobrova – Polhov Gradec, Grosuplje, Horjul, Ig, Ivančna Gorica, Logatec, Log – Dragomer, Škofljica, Šmartno pri Litiji, Velike Lašče and Vrhnika. To round off the visit, the members of the Government attended a public debate, where they answered questions raised by mayors, entrepreneurs and other development actors in the region.
The host of the public debate, the Mayor od the Municipality of Vrhnika Daniel Cukjati welcomed in his opening address all the guests and emphasised that, as a mayor, he is extremely proud that the entire Government gathered in Vrhnika, the town of Ivan Cankar. He highlighted yesterday’s signing of a contract for the construction of a new ward for people suffering from dementia, which is one of the assets that will remain in Vrhnika. The Mayor also thanked the Government for its help in addressing the problems which had affected the municipality.
The director of the Statistical Office of the Republic of Slovenia, Tomaž Smrekar, presented the basic statistical data of the region and put them in a broader context. The region covers an area of 2334 m2 or 12% of the Slovenian territory. It has 555,000 inhabitants, which is 26% of the entire population of Slovenia. The Osrednjeslovenska Region has 25 municipalities. In the southern part of the region, Grosuplje is the largest municipality with 12,5400 residents, while Horjul is the smallest one. The region has the highest population density in Slovenia, with big differences between its constituent parts; on average, it has 238 inhabitants per square meter. The Osrednjeslovenska Region has the youngest population in Slovenia. The employment rate is the seventh highest in the country. The region has the largest share of GDP in Slovenia amounting to 38%. This is also the highest GDP in the country, being 44% above the Slovenian average.
The Minister of Infrastructure, Jernej Vrtovec, said that due to the region’s distance from the railway infrastructure, the Government has been working on multimodality, endeavouring to introduce regular bus connections from villages to Slovenian railway stations. In general, the region has a well-developed infrastructure.
In respect of the energy price rise, the State Secretary for Small Business, Entrepreneurship and Crafts, Polona Rifelj, said that the Government had already issued a decree on the methodology of assessing damage in the economy caused by the rise in energy prices, which allows economic beneficiaries under the Act Determining the Measures to Mitigate the Consequences of Rising Energy Prices in the Economy and Agriculture to have access to state aid, for which EUR 70 million have been earmarked.
In this context, Prime Minister Janez Janša explained that the Government had already responded to the energy crisis with intervention measures. He stated yesterday’s data submitted by the Statistical Office, according to which electricity prices have dropped by 40%, which is the main factor that has contributed to Slovenia’s deflation over the last month. He added that the Government is making every effort to provide alternative sources to substitute gas supplies.
With regard to the problem of lengthy procedures for obtaining building permits, the Minister of Public Administration, Boštjan Koritnik, pointed to the complexity of the area of building permits causing staff to leave administrative units, to the high level of construction activity in recent years which the Government has, of course, encouraged, and the fact that as many as 85% of the building permit applications are incomplete. He said that he is trying to resolve this situation by convening regular meetings at the Ljubljana Administrative Unit. The Minister of Digital Transformation, Mark Boris Andrijanič, added that digitalisation can at least indirectly contribute to speeding up procedures and that he is pleased that the Ministry of the Environment has an e-construction project (e-graditev) underway. This means that already next year a platform will be available via which all the required documentation can be submitted at a single spot and the course of the entire procedure can be monitored.
The Minister of Culture, Vasko Simoniti, said that the Museum of Post and Telecommunications established by the Government during its term of office in 2008 is now managed by the Technical Museum of Slovenia in Bistra.
Regarding the Cohesion Policy for the period 2021-2027, Ms Monika Kirbiš Rojs, State Secretary at the Ministry of Economic Development and Technology, informed those present that the European Commission (EC) mission was taking place in Slovenia this week. The Ministry, along with the line ministries and the EC mission, reviewed all the documents produced very carefully. The difference compared to the previous period is that now the Government has set fund quotas that will be allocated to municipalities at the very outset. The amount of EUR 130 million is earmarked for integrated territorial investments for urban municipalities, the fund quota for all other municipalities is EUR 315 million and that for the CLLD regional fund is EUR 29 million. As the rate is low, the Government will stick to the agreements and promises made in the summer of 2020 at Brdo that the difference would be covered from the budget.
Minister of Digital Transformation Mark Boris Andrijanič said that covering white spots is one of the Government’s key priorities in the field of digitalisation. There are currently 108,000 of them across Slovenia, which are expected to be covered by 2025. The Government intends to assist households that have school children with satellite internet and, to that end, has also been amending legislation so that state subsidies for satellite internet connections would be allowed.
Minister of Health Janez Poklukar said that he had informed the Director of the Logatec Health Centre that in the next two years, the Ministry would finance the construction of an extension to the Logatec Health Centre and the construction of a mental health centre in the total value of EUR 2.8 million, with the Government co-financing the construction in the amount of over EUR 860,000.
Prime Minister Janša said that Slovenia is currently experiencing good economic growth. The Government has inflation under control both on annual and short-term basis. He stressed that maintaining further economic growth depends on us all and that every effort must be made to ensure that these positive trends will continue despite the problems that have been the subject of the discussions. Prime Minister Janša thanked the participants of the public debate for their cooperation and for the many initiatives given, and expressed his satisfaction that the Government team and local representatives had managed to resolve certain concrete issues even at the morning Government meeting. The Prime Minister thanked the entire ministerial team for holding more than 1,400 individual events in the course of 13 regional visits.