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Thursday, June 20, 2024

What “better future” has the government of Dr Robert Golob provided in two years?

By: C. R. 

The parliamentary group of the Slovenian Democratic Party has submitted a request to convene an extraordinary session of the National Assembly of the Republic of Slovenia with the following agenda item: “Proposal for a recommendation to the Government of the Republic of Slovenia on the 2nd anniversary of its operation.”

On June 1st, 2024, it will be two years since the government led by Dr Robert Golob was sworn in. The same Robert Golob who, upon his inauguration as Prime Minister, said that he was “grateful and humbled to be able to lead Slovenia into a better future that the citizens of Slovenia deserve”.

After initial promises and announcements of all sorts of reforms, high-flying words about increasing investments, greater efficiency, better utilisation of European funds, etc., we are witnessing a dismantling of the system. The healthcare system is falling apart, and we are facing a wave of strikes. Doctors, judges, prosecutors, administrative workers, and many others are on strike. The situation in homes for the elderly is more than critical, and long-term care is being postponed indefinitely. The only ones who have access to Dr Robert Golob and his government are the NGOs that facilitated the election and governance of Dr Robert Golob in 2022. Is this the better future he spoke of during his inauguration?

The government of Dr Robert Golob operates in such a way that everything adopted during Janez Janša’s government must be repealed, even if it harms the people and the economy. A clear example of this is the repeal of Janez Janša’s government’s Income Tax Act and the reduction of the general tax allowance, which directly harms people. As a result, a worker with an average salary will receive 664 euros less net pay per year. One of the first harmful measures of Dr Robert Golob’s government was also the abolition of the Office of the Republic of Slovenia for Demography, which was established by Janez Janša’s government. The implementation of the Long-Term Care Act was postponed by Dr Robert Golob’s government for one year, during which time a “new” law was passed that is not being implemented in practice, such as the right to a family member caregiver, which was supposed to be implemented from January 1st, 2024.

Under the leadership of Dr Robert Golob, the Ministry of Infrastructure has halted already planned infrastructure projects, and the execution of some is no longer anticipated. Additionally, certain EU-funded projects have been cancelled. On the other hand, extremely expensive railway projects are being planned, such as the renovation and upgrade of railway stations in Jesenice, Ljubljana, and Nova Gorica. The two years of Dr Robert Golob’s administration and his ministerial team have been marked by the most brutal personnel changes at all levels of the public sector in the history of independent Slovenia. The personnel change count was close to 100 replacements in the first month of the government, continuing month after month.

In 2022, Slovenia began grappling with an energy crisis, which the government of Dr Robert Golob addressed in the medium term by building large solar power plants, thereby enabling massive profits for companies offering turnkey solar power plant construction. Interestingly, the largest provider of such power plants is the former company led by Prime Minister Dr Robert Golob, Gen-I. During the energy crisis, Slovenia paid some of the highest electricity prices. Practically since the current government took office, electricity prices in Slovenia have been among the highest in the EU. Dr Robert Golob’s government plans to increase grid fees, higher contribution rates for employing workers, and restrict free economic initiative, as indicated by the recent amendment to the Hospitality Industry Act. Under this amendment, private landlords will be allowed to rent out their properties to tourists via online platforms for only 30 days a year.

Minister of Culture Dr Asta Vrečko is undoubtedly the most active member of Dr Robert Golob’s government in the past two years. However, her activities have not been in the best interest of Slovenian culture and its creators but have instead been focused on executing the leftist agenda envisioned by the Levica party. Following the successful “depoliticisation” of public RTV Slovenia, she is now, together with the new RTV Slovenia leadership, seeking solutions to secure even more funding for them, despite the fact that we are all already obliged to pay the monthly RTV contribution.

“The reform, set to be implemented on January 1st, 2024, will make the healthcare system significantly more accessible than it is now, reducing waiting times. Once the reform is completed, everyone who wants one will have their own personal doctor, anyone who needs a specialist will get an appointment within 30 days, and those needing surgery will wait no more than six months,” the largest coalition party, Gibanje Svobode, promised on social media at the end of 2022. The government of Dr Robert Golob declared that 2023 would be a year of reform. As recently as mid-December 2023, Dr Golob assured the National Assembly that “healthcare reform is being implemented and remains a key priority for this government”.

Dr Robert Golob’s government has enacted changes to the Employment and Social Security Records Act, introducing mandatory timestamping. In practice, it has become evident that the law is impractical and nonsensical.

Agriculture is a sector to which the ruling coalition did not even dedicate a chapter in their coalition agreement, let alone seriously address the pressing problems it faces. However, they have managed to impose additional taxes on payments for areas with limited agricultural potential and to expand and tighten regulations in the Natura 2000 areas, making farming significantly more difficult.

At the end of January 2024, it was reported that Slovenia had fallen to a historic low on the 2023 Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI 2023). Transparency International highlighted the close intertwining of corruption, conflicts, and security. Let’s recall some of the government’s actions that have been previously pointed out during discussions on anti-corruption efforts, most recently in the proposal of the Recommendation to the Government of the Republic of Slovenia regarding the state of anti-corruption in Slovenia, EPA 1321-IX:

  • Corrupt and clientelist behaviour in the purchase of a building at Litijska Street 51 in Ljubljana as part of the “Purchase of office space in Ljubljana for the needs of judicial authorities” project,
  • Corrupt and clientelist behaviour in the digitisation project of notarial services for the development of the new remote notary information system,
  • Corrupt and clientelist behaviour by the Prime Minister of the Republic of Slovenia, Dr Robert Golob, in dealings through the company Star Solar, Ltd.,
  • Corrupt and clientelist behaviour by the Prime Minister of the Republic of Slovenia, Dr Robert Golob, in dealings related to GEN-I and other businesses, and
  • Corrupt and clientelist behaviour by the Government of the Republic of Slovenia and the Minister of Digital Transformation, Dr Emilija Stojmenova Duh, in the purchase of laptops for 6,500,000 euros plus 2,500 euros monthly from November 2023 onwards.

“The Slovenian Democratic Party notes with concern that the state of the Republic of Slovenia has deteriorated during the government of Dr Robert Golob. We ask: What is this better future, and what do the citizens of Slovenia deserve after two years of Dr Robert Golob’s government? With our recommendation proposal, we call on the Government of the Republic of Slovenia and all its ministers to respect the constitutional order, act according to their conscience, and work with all their might for the welfare of Slovenia,” they stated in a press release.

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