By: Sara Bertoncelj
“The seventh anti-corona legislative package is extensive, in terms of finances, because the government took into account that the coming months will be uncertain due to the unpredictable epidemiological situation and that a significant economic recovery can only be expected in the second half of the year,” former Minister of the Economy and the Coordinator of the Expert Advisory Group for mitigating the economic consequences of the pandemic, Matej Lahovnik, Ph.D., explained for Nova24TV.
The seventh anti-corona legislative package (referred to as PKP-7) includes direct financial assistance to the economy in the form of even higher financing of fixed costs. It is also very important that the state funds rapid tests for the companies, and that the basis for mass testing is prepared, as this will enable faster recovery and restart of the economy, said the Coordinator of the advisory group of experts for mitigating the economic consequences of the pandemic, Matej Lahovnik, Ph.D., who was also Minister of the Economy twice in the past governments. “Assistance is also targeted at the most vulnerable groups of the population, for example, the low-income pensioners and low-paid employees, as well as students. A new and very important anti-crisis reform measure was also presented, which stipulates that the proprietors and their employees will have to agree on the decision whether the employee will continue to work after fulfilling the conditions for retirement, or if he will retire and enable the unemployed to work,” Lahovnik emphasized.
Lahovnik also touched on the current topic regarding the financing of non-governmental organizations (NGOs), as the mainstream media reported that the government “encouraged” the abolition of the Non-Governmental Organizations Development Fund in the seventh anti-corona legislative package. He explained that: “The seventh anti-corona legislative package also changes part of the financing of the non-governmental organizations through personal income tax. So far, many people did not even know that 0.5 percent of their personal income tax, which they did not dedicate to anyone but wanted to leave in the budget, did not actually remain in the budget. This part of the personal income tax is distributed to selected non-governmental organizations through a fund for the non-governmental organizations, according to certain criteria. According to the new law, we would be able to dedicate one percent of our personal income tax, so twice as much as before, to the non-governmental organizations. By deciding which NGO is entitled to a percentage of their personal income tax, the decision will be made by the taxpayers directly, instead of different commissions.” The thesis that the government is abolishing funding for the NGOs are simply misleading, Lahovnik reiterated, explaining that most programmes are financed through the competent ministries, and only the part related to voluntary personal income tax donations has been changed so that the NGOs could collect twice as much funds – but of course, this is only true for the NGOs that will try and convince the taxpayers to donate part of their income tax to them.
The Government of the Republic of Slovenia wrote that the main goal of the PKP-7 proposal is to mitigate and eliminate the consequences of covid-19 on the economy, labour and employment relations, social protection and healthcare. The seventh anti-corona legislative package brings, among other things: a solidarity allowance of up to 300 euros for pensioners with low pensions, a one-time solidarity allowance for children (for those in the 1st to 5th income tax class, the allowance will be 50 euros per child), a one-time solidarity allowance for students, in the amount of 150 euros, extraordinary childbirth allowance in the amount of 500 euros, allowance for large families – with three children, the amount will be 100 euros, for families with four or more children the allowance will be 200 euros, and employees with a salary of up to two minimum wages will receive an allowance of 200 euros, assistance and provision of funds for the purchase of the antigen rapid tests for SARS-CoV-2 virus, funds for bank loan guarantees, and reimbursement of costs for transport operators.
Minister of Infrastructure Jernej Vrtovec wrote that as far as infrastructure is concerned, the PKP-7 brings an extension of providing compensation fees for the occasional bus service providers (33 euros per day for a bus), the introduction of compensation fees for occasional van service providers (8 + 1), railway operators for passenger transport, and bus stations during non-operation of public passenger transport. The package also includes an extension of the SID Bank scheme for transport companies, provision of funds in the budget for the reduction of airfares in 2021 and compensation for school transport operators.
Minister of the Economy Zdravko Počivalšek said: “We are doing everything we can to keep our economy in the best possible shape,” and added that PKP-7 brings additional assistance to the most affected small and medium-sized enterprises. “We have doubled the top limit per employee for the fixed costs subsidy, the Slovene Enterprise Fund will have a new line of interest-free loans for 90 million euros, over 100 million euros of guarantees with an interest rate subsidy for small and medium-sized enterprises, the SID Bank will provide 200 million euros in favourable loans for tourism; we will allocate 40 euros per employee for quick tests for companies, we will provide an additional 5 million protective masks for micro companies,” he listed some of the other anti-corona measures that are part of PKP-7.
The fight against covid-19 is a joint fight. We win together, or we lose together
We have already reported that, according to MP Jure Ferjan, the PKP-7 proposal includes a solidarity allowance of up to 300 euros for pensioners who receive pensions of up to 714 euros, a one-time solidarity allowance for vulnerable groups in low-income rural areas, a one-time solidarity allowance for children in the amount of 50 euros up to the fifth income class, allowance of 100 euros for large families with three children and 200 euros for families with four or more children, a one-off solidarity allowance for students of 150 euros, and a one-off childbirth allowance of 500 euros (the current amount is 286.72 euros). In addition to all this, the employers will pay a crisis allowance of 200 euros to each employee who is working during the epidemic and whose last salary did not exceed twice the minimum wage or 2000 euros per month per employee, if the company’s sales revenues fell by more than 70 percent; the state will pay for all rapid tests for covid-19 testing for the economy; medical devices needed in the fight against covid-19 will be exempt from VAT; and additional funds will be provided for bank loan guarantees, reimbursement of costs for transport operators, and all Slovenian voluntary fire brigades that cannot collect voluntary contributions due to the epidemic. “The fight against covid-19 is a joint fight. We win together, or we lose together. I am confident that we will get through this, as we have many times before, as a nation or as humanity. Together. Uniform. Bravely. Decisively. Victorious,” Ferjan concluded in the spirit of solidarity.