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Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Harmful Golob’s government, a country in free fall

By: Vida Kocjan

It is the tenth month since the appointment of the government under the leadership of Robert Golob, for which we note has not yet done anything. Not only that. It is demolishing everything that the previous Janša’s government, had set up. They are announcing reforms in the fields of health, taxes, education, and the salary system, while at the same time, the deadlines for them are constantly being pushed back. Now in time for the next election.

They are most engaged in raising the salaries of individual professional groups in the public sector, where they buy social peace (electoral votes), while at the same time causing many anomalies and dissatisfaction among those professional groups that are in the minority in the public sector.

“Health reform”

Golob’s government proves again and again that it is not up to the tasks for which it was set up. Let us recall only the field of healthcare, where before the elections they pompously announced 30 days to a specialist and the like. But now it appears that the government is not even aware of the issues that already exist. One such example is the call centre for user assistance at the Zvem portal. Robert Golob announced publicly that “this has never happened in Slovenia before”. Among other things, one of the key projects in the healthcare reform was the establishment of a call centre to help users find clinics and help them use the portal. The leader of the SDS parliamentary group, Jelka Godec, responded to this and wrote that the call centre has been in place for several years. She also sent them a link via social networks with the note that Golob and Minister of Health Danijel Bešič Loredan can call if they need help. “They really think it all started on April 24th, 2022,” she added. Namely, the elections were at that time.

Health Minister Danijel Bešič Loredan, despite promising pre-election promises and announcements of action several months after he was sworn in, has still not implemented key measures, and he is “feeding” patients who desperately expect him to act with new empty promises. And after all this time, after all the promises made about concrete solutions, we got a “solution” that already exists – a call centre.

“Tax reform”

A more extensive tax reform was announced by the government coalition (Gibanje Svoboda, SD, and Levica) already last summer, when shortly after the beginning of the mandate, it only prepared the repeal of some of the changes in income tax implemented during the previous government. At the end of January, Golob then announced the tax reform for mid-March. Now, after a month and a half, the coalition met again at Brdo pri Kranju. According to forecasts, they should try to find a consensus on the search for new tax sources. The latter means that they primarily aim at new taxation of citizens and the economy. According to forecasts, on Tuesday in Brdo pri Kranju, they only got acquainted with the analysis of the situation, “they also want to determine the timeline”, well-informed sources reported.

“School reform”

They also announced school reform, but they are not revealing the details yet, which means they do not have them. The new Minister of Education, Darjo Felda, at a hearing before the competent committee of the National Assembly before taking up the ministerial position at the beginning of this year, highlighted the renewal of the curriculum in kindergartens, especially in the area of digitisation, as one of his priorities. He also spoke about the necessary changes in the field of elementary schools. He announced the adoption of the white paper on education by the end of this year. That being said, nothing has come of it.

Golob’s “investment cycle”

At the ceremony of the Chamber of Commerce of Slovenia (GZS) awarding businessmen and entrepreneurs, Robert Golob excitedly announced “the biggest investment cycle ever”. The value of the investments will be more than 100 million euros, among other things, in the green breakthrough and for the launch of the space industry, he said. In doing so, he received ridicule, as a cycle worth 100 million euros for the country is a drop in the ocean. Only the pharmaceutical company Lek, which belongs to the umbrella of the Swiss Sandoz, announced a day later in Lendava an investment worth 400 million euros in a high-tech centre for the production of similar biological drugs, which will create around 300 new jobs. The conditions for investment in Lendava were already created during the government of Janez Janša. During the previous government, 6.67 billion euros were earmarked for the development of municipalities, of which 1.22 billion euros came from European funds, and the conditions were guaranteed for 2,416 projects. Golob really laughed with his hundred million euros and showed how he underestimates Slovenian citizens or makes fun of them.

Shameful draining of European funds

During the government of Janez Janša, Slovenia was among the more successful in drawing European funds that bring development. At the end of February this year, MEP Romana Tomc sent a letter to the Minister of Finance Klemen Boštjančič, in which she drew attention to a recent event in the European Parliament. Indeed, MEPs recently discussed the issue of drawing funds from the Recovery and Resilience Plan fund. Slovenia was singled out as one of the cases where implementation is far behind the intended plan. This is precisely why there is great fear in the European institutions that the plan will not be fully implemented, which would mean a great loss of European funds.

According to the information of the MEP, Slovenia should receive approximately 231 million euros as part of pre-financing in September 2021. According to the plan, the first and second payment requests should have been sent together, namely in the second quarter of 2022, which did not happen. The third request was supposed to be sent in the fourth quarter of 2022, which also did not happen. The first request was submitted only in October 2022, much later than planned, while the second and third requests have not been submitted yet. The reasons for these delays are said to be the failure to meet the goals or milestones. Tomc asked Minister Boštjančič to clarify the causes of the delays for the purposes of further discussions and explanations in the European Parliament. A journalist from Demokracija magazine also asked Minister Boštjančič about this at one of the press conferences. The visibly reluctant minister, as is usual for everyone in this government, initially blamed the previous government under the leadership of Janez Janša for the delay. Only then he admitted that the government was changing plans, and at the same time assured that “the funds should be drawn in full on time” until 2026, when he will probably no longer be in the minister’s chair.

Predictions for 2023: “In just one year, we went from record optimism to record pessimism”

Slovenian directors are distinctly pessimistic about the future, according to the latest survey by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), which was presented last week. Their forecasts for this year are even among the most pessimistic so far. As many as 84 Slovenian directors expect the contraction of the Slovenian economy.

In 2023, directors of Slovenian companies feel financially most exposed to inflation, economic uncertainty, and geopolitical risk. The predictions for 2023 are among the most pessimistic in the history of research and represent a complete reversal from last year.

In addition, the Association of Managers mentions the pressure on the economy and that the announcements of various reforms are accompanied by mixed signals. They warn that companies do not know what awaits them, and this triggers a certain amount of pessimism.

In this year’s global survey, which is the 26th, 4,410 directors and board presidents from 105 countries participated, including 50 from Slovenia. It was carried out in October and November last year. Foreign directors are much less pessimistic than Slovenian ones, although they also have concerns.

49 percent of Slovenian CEOs participating in the survey believe that their companies will not survive if they do not transform their business processes today, and 40 percent at the global level. A decline in economic growth this year is expected by 73 percent of global directors and 78 percent of Slovenian directors. A contraction of the Slovenian economy is expected by 84 percent of Slovenian directors.

As the biggest threat that will affect the company’s revenues in the next ten years, global directors highlighted changed consumer habits, while Slovenian directors were most concerned about the lack of manpower or appropriate work skills. Furthermore, Slovenian directors are concerned about consumer habits, disruptions in supply chains, the transition to new energy sources, disruptions in technologies and changes in legislation.

They spend money, there are no effects

Jelka Godec, leader of the SDS parliamentary group: “The first move of Golob’s coalition was the abolition of the Office for the central price record of medical devices and the reference prices for procurement in healthcare, which were introduced by the government of Janez Janša. They established a new Office for Control, Quality, and Investments in Healthcare. They spent 62,355 euros for nothing, or: 36,685 euros for consulting in the reorganisation of work and the start of the office; 6,450 euros each for the preparation of content and legal assistance in the office and for the area of investment and financial content in the office, and 4,031 euros for administrative matters and reports in the office. The newly established office is headed by Aleš Šabeder, and in a month they have done nothing but spend money.”


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