By: L. K. F., SDS
At the session of the National Assembly, members of parliament discussed the proposal of amending budget for 2022, which reduces funds for investments and plans a deficit of as much as 1.7 billion euros in the last four months of this year, which is why we in SDS do not support it in any way. The position of the SDS parliamentary group was presented by MP Suzana Lep Šimenko.
The complete magnetogram, which is not authorised, is published below.
SUZANA LEP ŠIMENKO (MP SDS): “Dear MPs, respected Prime Minister, respected government team, welcome to all. Before us is the supplementary budget proposal of the Republic of Slovenia for 2022. Each budget is the country’s most important document, which shows the direction that the current coalition will take towards the people of Slovenia in all areas of its activity, from the economy, social services, health, education to infrastructure and agriculture.
The supplementary proposal of the amending budget for 2022 predicts record revenues in the amount of 12.5 billion euros as well as record expenses in the amount of 14.58 billion euros. As a result of higher tax inflows, the budget will receive as much as 1.28 billion euros more. Two items in particular are increasing, i.e., corporate income tax and value added tax. In particular, the higher corporate income tax indicates good measures by the previous government. Despite the covid crisis, our economy came out of it in very good condition, which was acknowledged not least by the experts of the prestigious Economist weekly, who analysed the response to the epidemic and placed Slovenia in excellent second place.
The higher value added tax is mainly a response to the ever-higher prices of services and products, which also result in more collected VAT. Despite higher revenues from tax inflows, budget expenditures are increasing by as much as 640 million euros. According to the Slovenian Democratic Party, the proposal for the amended budget of the Republic of Slovenia for 2022 is certainly not development-oriented, nor is it goal-oriented.
The funds earmarked for investments in the 2022 budget are being reduced, especially under the item of new construction, reconstruction, and adaptation. You are really bad managers when it comes to investments. The current state of the budget on the Government’s website indicates the fact that you have currently spent only a good 30% of the funds planned for this year on investments. It is hard to imagine this, if we know that investments are the basis for better services and the life of citizens, and on the other hand, of course, they mean an additional stimulus to the economy, which is the engine of returning taxes to the state budget. And we are aware of the current situation in the construction market.
And you know where else you are catastrophically bad? When obtaining EU funds. Currently, you have obtained only 40% of the planned funds from the EU, as a result of course the funds received from the European Union are decreasing in the amending budget. European funds are extremely important development and investment funds for Slovenia, but unfortunately, whenever we have a left-wing option in power, the absorption of European funds is getting worse and worse. If in April 2022 we were in fourth place in terms of drawing European funds, in August 2022 we fell to eleventh place among EU countries. So, you have indicated the direction you will follow in the field of drawing European funds, and the country, because of your attitude towards European funds, is naturally losing, and I hope that you are aware of this, at least the members of parliament.
In the Parliamentary Group of the Slovenian Democratic Party, we note that this amending budget is not the least bit frugal, but as already mentioned, not at the expense of investments. It is more than obvious that the proposed amending budget will not solve the key problems that Slovenia has been facing in the last period, it will not solve the high cost of energy, it will not solve the ever-increasing living costs of citizens, here I am referring to vital expenses for food and energy products. Moreover, it will not solve problems in the field of healthcare, pensions, the labour market, and problems faced by young people.
We cannot ignore the fact that the economy in Slovenia is cooling down, especially due to the high prices of energy products. And no, there is no solution in temporarily closing companies, just as the Prime Minister lightly stated, because he simply cannot close companies and reopen them after a few months, it is not that easy, and as a good businessman, I believe that he is aware of this himself too.
Of course, problems need to be solved where they arise, that is, in electric energy companies, which are directly or indirectly more than 90 percent state-owned. Far too little has been done here so far. One of the key problems of the amending budget is certainly its deficit, which you estimate will amount to more than 2 billion euros at the end of the year.
As the Fiscal Council pointed out, in the last four months of this year, i.e., from September to December, you plan to create a deficit of 1.7 billion euros, and here we naturally wonder how, in August we had a deficit of 342 million euros, you have now withdrawn aid to the economy from 40 to 86 million euros, but this is far from enough, and of course we wonder how you will manage to process the 1.7 billion euro deficit in four months.
This question was put to the Minister of Finance several times on Saturday, but we did not get an answer. I do not know; I wonder if this is one of those technical corrections that the Prime Minister announced that we will have in the amending budget.
The problem we see in the Parliamentary Group of the Slovenian Democratic Party is taxes. In the Slovenian Democratic Party, we are convinced that the citizens of the Republic of Slovenia and the economy are already taxed too much. The current coalition and the current government are of course convincing us otherwise, and right now, new laws will be introduced with which you want to repeal the really good measures that we adopted in the spring of this year here in the National Assembly with the Income Tax Act.
Except for those on the minimum wage, the wages of those with an average wage will also be reduced next year, because of course we are starting from the currently valid law, which provides for a gradual increase in the general allowance, and here you are misleading people en masse that those with an average wage will also have a higher wage next year compared to this year, true, compared to this year, but not compared to the currently valid law, which foresees 5 thousand 500 euros in general relief in the next year, and only this should rise to 7 thousand 500 euros.
This is, of course, a big problem, because, as mentioned, salaries in Slovenia are significantly overtaxed and given that we are currently facing 11 percent inflation, people’s salaries are worth less every month. Of course, work has to pay, but you claim the opposite. You want to have as many people as possible dependent on social policy. But why? Because with this you want to take away people’s freedom, the freedom that you constantly point out, but that is exactly what you want, and you want as many people as possible to be dependent on the state.
In the Slovenian Democratic Party, we believe that this is a wrong policy. People must be paid decently for their work, and tax, family and social policies must be geared towards making it worthwhile for people to work, and not so that they end up speculating whether it is better to depend on social transfers, and to be on lower wages.
Employees who receive the average Slovenian salary, i.e., around 1,300 euros net, are not rich people who need something to be taken from them, and of course you intend to reduce their salary next year with the planned tax change. Dear coalition, you are not following the path of development. You are leading Slovenia to ruin, and no, the reason is not lower tax inflows into the budget, because tax inflows into the budget are higher.
Despite the change in the Income Tax Act that has already been exposed this year, the income from income tax in this year’s budget is also rising by almost 51 million euros. The fact is that you draw European funds poorly, the fact is that despite 1.28 billion euros of higher tax inflows into the budget for 2022, you are increasing expenses by as much as 640 million. The fact is that you are reducing funds for investments and the fact is that you are planning a deficit of 1.7 billion euros in the budget in the last four months of this year.
Because of everything exposed in the Slovenian Democratic Party, we will not support this amending budget in any way.”