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Sunday, December 10, 2023

How long will Golob be able to protect the minister and himself?

By: Ž. N. (nova24tv.si)

“For as long as Golob covers for her, she will remain the minister because he put her there. Now, whether there are reasons for resignation or not, that is irrelevant,” pointed out Peter Jančič, editor of the online portal Spletni časopis, and recalled the time when the current State Secretary, Darij Krajčič, had to resign during the Šarec government because of a stolen sandwich.

While former Minister of Agriculture Aleksandra Pivec had to resign over a few slices of prosciutto and former State Secretary Darij Krajčič due to a sandwich, Golob’s government is extravagantly spending on luxury. After the news broke that the Minister of Public Administration, Sanja Ajanović Hovnik, spent a whopping 33,000 euros on a trip to New York with her entourage, Prime Minister Robert Golob came to her defence, even though he himself is known for his extravagance when it comes to private jet flights. This was revealed by journalist Peter Jančič.

“I believe that all stakeholders in this society will have to contribute a proportionate share to remedy this damage, meaning both the public sector, public servants, and other stakeholders,” said Minister Sanja Ajanović Hovnik not long ago. However, she apparently does not see any issues when it comes to extravagantly spending taxpayer money on official trips. The same goes for the Prime Minister. Journalist Jančič was the first to present to the public the data from the Erar application and the dramatic increase in costs for the flights of Prime Minister Robert Golob’s cabinet and ministries compared to previous payments. So far, Jančič has not managed to obtain a list of flights of government representatives on hired private planes with prices and passengers on each of these flights from the government. Because the Prime Minister and Tina Gaber were spotted on the Croatian island of Lošinj in September, and the government used hired private planes extensively during that month, we did inquire whether the lovebirds had taken a private trip to the sea at our expense. Nevertheless, the fact remains that the affair of squandering taxpayer money reveals a demeaning attitude toward voters and taxpayers’ money.

Jančič published a poll on his website where readers can express their opinions on the situation regarding the costs of the truce flights and the overpriced trip of the minister to the USA, where an incredibly large group of employees accompanied her, which is a massive delegation even for parliament. “The vast majority of people are extremely critical,” he explained, as they believe that the spending of taxpayers’ money is a scandal, and both the minister and the prime minister should resign, according to them. “This resonates. For the government, this situation is particularly awkward because they are in the midst of discussions about the budget rebalance, where they have to reduce expenses, and this government dramatically increased them at the beginning of its term when it established five additional ministries, which means a significant number of new government and similar positions, resulting in higher costs.”

There were not as many of these costs in the past, and in reality, the expense is higher

“Then it turned out that economic growth is much lower than they predicted, severe floods happened, and now they are in a great crisis,” he pointed out, adding that both the prime minister and the minister set a bad example by defending that they had to use the Falcon due to a malfunction during the summer. However, the bad example had already started with the beginning of the spending spree with ministries in a way that they would never achieve the goal of balancing the budget.

“I heard that there is chaos in these budget negotiations because the Ministry of Finance does not control what is happening with the ministries in preparing the budget rebalance. Already two weeks ago, they postponed the decision, the deadline for coordination expires at the end of this week, and there are still no documents that should be on their way to parliament. The real problem is even bigger than it seems, and it is with the numbers, which have dramatically increased. The Prime Minister says he did not fly, but that individual ministers did. However, there were not as many of these costs in the past, and in reality, the expense is higher. These are facts, and everyone can check whether the data is accurate or not,” explained Jančič.

If the Prime Minister is extravagant, he cannot expect subordinates not to be

When Eugenija Carl published the story about the profligacy of the Minister for Public Administration, Jančič wondered why Prime Minister Golob did not have a stance on this. From the beginning, it was clear to him that the Prime Minister would have a hard time explaining this. Regarding Golob’s support for the extravagant minister, Jančič says that Golob’s stance is logical. “For the Prime Minister, those 3,000 euros for the ticket that the minister paid for herself, her husband got a ticket for 900 euros; it cannot be a big problem because he spends much more on flights on shorter routes. If he has the same standards, he cannot blame the minister for anything. This is a problem with the Prime Minister’s behaviour. He is an example to everyone,” Jančič points out, adding that if he is extravagant, he cannot expect subordinates not to be. If both the Prime Minister and the President of the Republic travel in this way, he believes it is expected that it will be the same for ministers, state secretaries, and directorate directors because they are just as important and do not have time. He reminded that this government proclaims itself to be ecological, but these flights on business jets are absolutely unecological. It is the worst kind of hypocrisy, while they demand that people save on cars, he criticises.

Jančič says that the government did not respond to him when he published the story about the extravagance of chartering planes, but they sent him a general explanation about flights because all the media outlets picked up the story without mentioning that it was his. “Because they had problems, they explained for everyone. The March 8th Institute does the same,” he reminded, as he recently published an article that they did not pick up the mail at the institute when the Court of Audit of the Republic of Slovenia began proceedings due to alleged violations of the election campaign law because they used foreign funds for this. “I sent a question why they did not pick up the mail, they did not answer my question, but on the social network, they explained to everyone that this would be against them. If I had not accidentally seen this on the social network, I would not have known. This is quite an abuse, not to answer a question you received, but to use it to discredit this journalist, which the government has not done so far,” he criticised. He problematised the behaviour of the institute, as the president of the institute, Nika Kovač, is a colleague of Robert Golob. She is his advisor for hate speech, and from that point of view, she should be correct. “Not to mention that last year he had half a million in income from unknown sources. We are a completely incredible country that allows some organisations that are obviously more like organisations of political parties and politicians to operate completely non-transparently. This is a high risk of corruption in the country and literally potential theft of public money due to this lack of transparency.” Jančič finds it interesting that there are no concrete answers regarding the spending, but it is true that formally according to the law there is still time, as there is a seven-day deadline according to the Media Act, even longer according to the Access to Public Information Act, although, according to his words, the government usually responds immediately to such questions.

As long as Golob covers for her, she will be the minister

Because there have been various opinions regarding the affair in which the minister got entangled, Jančič pointed out that ministers resign when demanded by the Prime Minister. “As long as Golob covers her, she will be the minister because he appointed her. Now, whether there are reasons for resignation or not, that is irrelevant,” he emphasised and recalled the time when the current State Secretary had to resign due to the theft of a sandwich during the Šarec government, as it was the Prime Minister’s decision. “A minister can resign on their own; for example, Ms. Tatjana Bobnar resigned. Similarly, Minister of Health Danijel Bešič Loredan also resigned, but he had to do so because the Prime Minister gave him a resignation statement and told him to sign it, and he signed it. I would not discuss here whether there are sufficient reasons for resignation or not because that is a matter of the Prime Minister’s decision,” he concluded.


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