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Thursday, June 30, 2022

The government listened to the economy again

By: Vida Kocjan

Last Thursday in Brdo pri Kranju, Prime Minister Janez Janša and ministers discussed with the economists about the measures to curb the covid-19 epidemic and preserve the country’s economic potential. They agreed that everything should be done to ensure the functioning of the economy in compliance with the instructions of the health profession.

The working meeting with representatives of the economy was convened by Prime Minister Janez Janša and was also attended by Minister of the Economy Zdravko Počivalšek and Minister of Health Janez Poklukar.

They looked for solutions to current challenges

The consultation sought solutions to the current challenges ahead. At the forefront were three of the most pressing issues at the time: how to ensure uninterrupted working conditions and processes in the situation of the spread of new infections, rising energy prices and investments that would keep the economy in good shape.

At a press conference after a meeting with economists, Minister of the Economy Počivalšek expressed satisfaction that the conference had confirmed that the government had acted correctly in all waves of the corona crisis and that the measures, with which they incurred debts, had helped companies to maintain jobs and achieve economic growth.

This is also confirmed by the figures, Počivalšek pointed out, as last year’s economic growth was between 6.6 and 7.1 percent, and this year’s is estimated at between 4 and 5 percent. He said economists were calling for continued tax cuts to make it easier to compete with educated staff and financial aid in the event of tougher measures.

Weak companies are particularly affected

The overall conclusion of the consultation was that low value-added companies will be particularly affected in the coming years. Minister Počivalšek announced measures that will help them survive and emphasised that the Slovenian economy will have a lot of (European) funds available in the coming years, namely 100 million euros from React-EU sources, 427 million from the Recovery and Resilience Plan, and a package of measures from the next programming period 2021-2027 is being prepared. He also said that the government has adopted a strategy of digital transformation for the economy for the period 2020-2030. The goal is for Slovenia to be among the top three countries in terms of the use of advanced digital technologies, he added.

“We have heard a lot of praise,” said Počivalšek about the measures taken so far to help the economy during the covid-19 epidemic, adding that the economists came to the consultation with new proposals.

Vaccination support

He assured that the government will do everything for the smooth functioning of the economy, provided that the measures proposed by the health profession are respected. He stressed that we will not survive this crisis without high vaccination coverage. Vaccination remains the main measure against the spread of the epidemic in the economy, confirmed the Minister of Health Janez Poklukar, who thanked the economists for supporting this. He emphasised that only in this way could we avoid the closure of society due to the many infections and quarantines. He also noted at the consultation that the economy broadly and fully supports vaccination. He called for business processes to take place in bubbles, in the case of switching between bubbles, employees should be tested more, and work should be organised in two or three teams, thus preventing a drop in production in the event of a virus invading an organisation. The economy also agreed. Tibor Šimonka, President of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Slovenia, emphasised that the economy also wants to help achieve the highest possible vaccination coverage in the country. “If any additional measures need to be taken, we will always support what the profession will defend,” he stressed.

There was also a lot of talk at the working meeting about labour shortages. “We also talked about how to get staff from abroad, as well as how to more easily and better include the potential of retirees who would like to continue to participate in the work process,” said Počivalšek.

The problem of rising energy prices in recent times has not been avoided either. Economists have been assured that the Ministry of the Economy will tackle this problem together with the Ministry of Infrastructure.

Economists are happy about the consultation with government

Tibor Šimonka, President of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry: “The consultation with the Prime Minister represents a positive shift in finding a solution to the burning issue of high energy prices,” said Tibor Šimonka, President of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry, after the consultation in Brdo. The Prime Minister Janez Janša confirmed that the government will aid the most endangered companies due to the extraordinary rise in energy costs. The Chamber of Commerce and Industry and The Chamber of Craft and Small Business of Slovenia have committed themselves to optimising the proposal for the aid scheme prepared by the Chamber of Commerce in October last year. The consultation confirmed that, as in other EU countries, all domestic stakeholders want to participate in the development of practical solutions that would enable the economy to overcome the current situation in the field of energy without stopping production. The President of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry expressed satisfaction that the government is aware of the need to ensure uninterrupted work processes in companies with the growing number of infections. This is also one of the issues of concern to the economy, as on the one hand there are fears that the growing number of infected and quarantined people will force them to limit their business processes and, on the other hand, that the government would further restrict the functioning of the state with new measures. According to Šimonka, this is not acceptable for the economy. It requires as smooth an operation as possible, as this is already very difficult in the current situation. Therefore, as the President of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry emphasises, “we also want to help achieve the highest possible vaccination coverage in the country. If any additional measures need to be taken, we will always support what the profession will advocate.”

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