Politics

11 Mar 2019, 19:00 PM

STA, 8 March 2019 - The Ljubljana Local Court has slapped the opposition Democrats (SDS) with a fine of EUR 20,000 for violating the political parties act in the hiring of two loans, the commercial broadcaster POP TV reported on Friday. SDS head Janez Janša was slapped with a EUR 2,000 fine. The party has reportedly already announced an appeal.

The SDS was indicted by the Court of Audit in March 2018 over two contentious loans it took out in 2017.

The party came under fire in January 2018 for closing a deal on a EUR 450,000 loan from a Bosnian national at the end of 2017, and borrowing EUR 60,000 from the publisher Nova Obzorja in August 2017.

This runs contrary to the provision that parties can only borrow from banks, savings banks and a limited amount of money from individuals.

Under the loan agreement with Bosnian Diana Đuđić, the 32-year-old was obligated to pay out the loan in three instalments of EUR 150,000.

The law puts the ceiling for party loans from individuals at ten times the value of the average gross monthly pay or around EUR 15,800 per year.

Less than two weeks after the scandal broke out, media reported of the loan the SDS took from Nova Obzorja, in which the party holds a 44.2% stake. The stake was also put up as collateral in the loan secured with Đuđić but was later put up for sale.

Nova Obzorja issues the weekly Demokracija and tabloid Škandal24.

The SDS returned the first instalment it received from Đuđić with interest in January 2018 but this did not stop the procedure against the party.

All our stories on politics in Slovenia can be found here

https://www.total-slovenia-news.com/news/politics

11 Mar 2019, 14:15 PM

STA, 8 March 2019 - Zoran Poznič, a 59-year-old cultural manager and new media curator, was appointed as Slovenia's new culture minister by the National Assembly on Friday by 47 votes in favour and 19 against.

Poznič has been heading Delavski Dom Trbovlje, a progressive cultural centre in the mining town of Trbovlje, for almost a decade.

He joined the junior coalition Social Democrats (SD) after offering himself as a candidate to the party, and now succeeds Dejan Prešiček, who was forced out of office in January amid bullying allegations.

In his hearing before the parliamentary Culture Committee, Poznič said one of his priorities would be to have a national culture programme for the period between 2020 and 2026 adopted this year.

He also pledged to seek to tackle the status of the self-employed and NGOs in the culture sector, and see to digitalisation of cultural heritage, among other things.

He expects that the culture euro law could become operational by the summer, considering that the draft proposal is all but ready.

Poznič also called for new media legislation, for curbing hate speech in the media, and opening up the room for new media that would support quality criticism in culture and investigative reporting.

Prime Minister Šarec said during today's debate that he expected a lot from Poznič and expressed the hope that stakeholders in culture would give him an opportunity to prove himself.

"Unlike many, I personally perceive the culture department as equal to others, as a field which must not lag behind in its ambitiousness," the prime minister added.

Šarec expects solutions from the new minister, pointing to the culture euro law, a new media law and a new national programme for culture.

"To put it short, I expect a new momentum and proposals for how to make the necessary breakthrough," Šarec said, adding that he expected the relationships at the ministry under the new boss to be appropriate.

Šarec hopes that the employees at the ministry had given the entire situation a thought and that they would "prefer work to complaining and replace the stories about the undermined trust with diligence."

While the coalition MPs endorsed Poznič, the opposition Democrats (SDS) had announced they would vote against, and the opposition Left, New Slovenia (NSi) and National Party (SNS) said they would not oppose Poznič.

Alenka Jeraj (SDS) took issue with Poznič offering himself as a candidate, saying that one would expect from a serious party like the SD to find an appropriate candidate within its own ranks.

Violeta Tomić of the Left said that culture in Trbovlje had entered a new era with Poznič, whom she labelled a good manager and a person who has a feel for workers' rights.

Ljudmila Novak (NSi) noted that Poznič would be facing problems not becoming the the Culture Ministry, as he first had to improve the damaged personal relationships in the institution.

Zmago Jelinčič (SNS) said that the candidate had said nothing about the protection of the Slovenian language and Slovenian cultural heritage.

Growing up in a mining family, Poznič graduated in sculpture from the Ljubljana Academy of Fine Arts in 2007, obtaining a master's degree in video and new media two years later.

He was appointed director of DDT, a worker's home-turned cultural centre, in 2008, setting out a new vision of the town under the slogan Trbovlje New Media Town.

The project brings together creative potential of people in the local and broader communities, combining with global trends in new media. Its central feature is the new media culture festival Speculum Artium.

09 Mar 2019, 09:12 AM

STA, 8 March 2019 - Health Minister Samo Fakin has notified Prime Minister Marjan Šarec that he is stepping down because of ill health, after being on sick leave since 18 February. Šarec told the press that he would inform the public about Fakin's successor in the coming days.

In his resignation note to Šarec on Friday, Fakin said he was resigning because his recovery had not been progressing quickly enough. Šarec, who visited Fakin at home yesterday, said today that "this move was necessary at this moment".

Šarec also said that the outgoing minister's illness was "nothing that can't be treated, but things have piled up. He suffered an extended bout of bronchitis, followed by pneumonia."

Fakin told the newspaper Finance over the phone that "changing health legislation is very demanding. It requires a healthy person and I am not. When deciding what to do, health took priority."

"I haven't thought about a successor and I'm leaving that up to others," he told Finance. While he remains on sick leave, State Secretary Pia Vračko will continue to stand in for him, the Health Ministry said.

When asked how the change at the ministry will affect the reforms planned by his government, Šarec said that the goals remained unchanged.

He also said that he was happy with Fakin's work. "The minister is one of few people who know the entire system. He identified the real problems and addressed them. There can be no quick solutions in this ministry."

"Because he set such high goals, he now realised that he will not be able to see it through, being ill. We need a person capable of seeing things through."

But this will be no easy task. The next minister will have their work cut out for them. "The tasks are really tough," said the prime minister.

Fakin is the fourth minister in the Šarec government to step down after Environment Minister Jure Leben, Cohesion Minister Marko Bandelli and Culture Minister Dejan Prešiček.

Health ministers who last an entire government term are few and far between in Slovenia. Several said after leaving the position that they gave up on health reform, a project in the works for many years, due to strong pressure from various lobbies.

08 Mar 2019, 13:00 PM

STA, 7 March 2019 - The Ljubljana District Court acquitted Ljubljana Mayor Zoran Janković of bribery charges in the Gratel case on Thursday. The prosecution sought a three-year prison sentence and a EUR 50,000 fine for Janković. It also wanted the Ljubljana municipality to return the donation it received from the company Gratel.

The ruling is not final yet and prosecutor Blanka Žgajnar announced an appeal.

The case concerns EUR 500,000 which the mayor demanded from construction company Gratel in March 2007 to allow it to dig roads to install optic cables.

Gratel then transferred two EUR 250,000 instalments to the municipality as a donation for the renovation of Ljubljana Castle.

This enabled it to resume its work under a new development permit after Janković had initially banned Gratel from digging on public premises.

Janković argued that the payment had been made in compensation for the damage incurred by the city because Gratel had dug up wider conduits and installed more cables than agreed.

He maintained throughout the trial there was nothing wrong with a company making a donation to a public institution, saying it caused no harm to anyone and nobody except the prosecutor was claiming anything back.

Gratel owner Jurij Krč backed up his story, saying the donation to Ljubljana Castle was not a bribe but a payment in line with the contract, while former Gratel CEO Drago Štrafela said he did not understand why the money should be paid to the municipality, arguing the city suffered no damage.

In presenting closing arguments today, prosecutor Žgajnar said Janković had used his power to pressure Gratel into the donation. "When they did that, he allowed them to continue the work," she said.

"Donations are not forbidden if they are voluntary," she stressed, adding that three witnesses had confirmed that the defendant had demanded money. She believes that the one witness who did not confirm this was not telling the truth.

But Judge Vladislava Lunder said today that the evidence presented had not corroborated the claim that Janković had demanded a bribe and that none of the witnesses had confirmed this.

"None of the witnesses confirmed the claim that Janković made obtaining the permit conditional on the payment of the damages," the judge said.

The problems of the project as part of which Gratel was building an optical network for operator T-2 had started in 2006, which is before Janković became mayor. According to Lunder, not only testimonies of witnesses but also documents presented as evidence showed this.

The judge was not convinced by the prosecutor's claim that Janković had revoked the permit to Gratel only to allow it to continue work once it paid a bribe.

Žgajnar moreover said that Štrafela had softened his statements compared to those he had given to police during the investigation. She believes it was him who had made the deal with Janković.

Janković's lawyer, Janez Koščak, said that no proceeding had been filed against the person who allegedly paid the bribe so technically there was no bribe to be accepted by Janković or the municipality.

He said Janković was on trial for acting with due care and diligence by demanding compensation after a contract partner had violated the contract. "If he hadn't done that he could be indicted for negligence."

Janković said today the had been the target of a political campaign by four persons, including Žgajnar, for the last four years. He believes this attack had been triggered by a "pamphlet of the parliamentary enquiry which was led by Alenka Jeraj of the SDS."

Jeraj of the opposition Democrats led between 2009 and 2011 a parliamentary inquiry into major public construction projects and other major investments funded from the Ljubljana or state budgets.

The final report of the inquiry commission, which had also investigated construction deals of companies owned by Janković's family members, suggested that Janković abused his power to allow his sons to profit from a re-zoning plan that opened agricultural land for construction.

All our stories on Ljubljana Mayor Zoran Janković can be found here

08 Mar 2019, 10:30 AM

STA, 6 March 2019 - Transparency International Slovenija (TI) has reported the director of the Agency for Commodity Reserves Anton Zakrajšek to the state prosecution over suspected abuse of office in the procurement of what is currently a 179-km fence on the border with Croatia.

 

Following allegations that the procurement of the fencing favoured a specific contractor, TI obtained part of the documentation after almost three years of efforts, receiving a nod from the Information Commissioner and engaging in a tug-of-war with the agency in courts.

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Screenshot from YouTube

TI believes Zakrajšek abused his powers when signing a razor wire contract with Minis in 2015 which included the provision of an advance payment of EUR 860,832 or 70% of the contract's total value.

Minis has been the main supplier of "technical obstacles" that Slovenia started erecting on the Croatian border during the migration crisis. It has received more than EUR 9.3m from the agency, while the remaining suppliers have been paid a total of EUR 6m, the newspaper Dnevnik reported today.

TI says the agency would have required special consent from the finance minister for the advance payment, which it does not appear to have received, while Zakrajšek is arguing the payment had never been executed.

The official, who is adamant that Minis was always picked as the cheapest bidder, argues the advance payment had been conditional on the supplier securing a bank guarantee in the full amount of the payment, which it failed to do.

What is more, the Finance Ministry said this provision only applied to direct budget users, while the agency is not defined as a budget user at all.

TI responded by saying "the alleged advance payment is only one of the suspicions elements, while confirming or rejecting the suspicion is in the domain of the relevant authorities". The NGO told the STA it saw no reason to withdraw its report.

TI only asked for a portion of the documents, as much of the fence procurement documentation remained classified as internal. The STA has not yet received an answer from the government about whether it planned to declassify them.

The agency said in a press release in the afternoon that the documents were classified because their contents could put in jeopardy the government's objectives to regulate migration flow.

Moreover, Zakrajšek said in the press release that the agency had asked Minis for a bid because the company had already been cooperating with the Interior Ministry at that point and the department had no complaints. The Interior Ministry also provided the specifications for the fence, the press release said.

The fencing contracts, signed under special provisions governing procurement in cases labelled classified, have been raising eyebrows for some time.

Alenka Bratušek, the head of the SAB party who was an MP at the time, caused waves after a 2017 session of the parliamentary Commission for Public Finance Oversight, when she claimed the documents studied had been manipulated with and that the chosen bidder had not been the cheapest.

SAB secretary general Jernej Pavlič said today that Bratušek had forwarded her findings at the time to the prosecution.

Zakrajšek insists the chosen bidder had been the cheapest and fastest and claims Bratušek is misleading with her accusation, which he says is based on a mistake that occurred in one of the minutes.

Media have also been wondering about the choice of Minis, with POP TV reporting on Tuesday that the company and a local office of the Modern Centre Party (SMC), the senior coalition party between 2014 and 2018, shared the same address for a while.

SMC leader Miro Cerar responded to the reports by saying the intensive migration pressure in 2015 required the decision to protect people and property.

"This was the task I put to the ministers," he said, expressing his belief the decisions followed professional criteria and legal obligations. "I believe Economy Minister Zdravko Počivalšek acted in due fashion."

All our stories on corruption and Slovenia are here

07 Mar 2019, 16:30 PM

March 7, 2019

With regard to the name that will compose party lists in the upcoming European parliamentary elections, we know now that at least four major parties chose women as heads of their lists of candidates. Since the voting system allows voters to also cast a preferential vote to one of the candidates on the list they are choosing, being no. 1 on the list doesn’t necessarily mean you are first to get a parliamentary seat but rather that you serve as a face of that list, and will almost certainly participate in election debates.

So far the lists have been presented by Nova Slovenija (NSi), Socialni demokrati (SD), Levica and most recently also the Prime Minister’s Lista Marjana Šarca (LMŠ), who surprised with some very fresh faces, a bit too fresh, some might say.

Soon Slovenska Demokratska Stranka (SDS) is expected to present their list of candidates, and if they decide to put the current European Member of Parliament Romana Tomc at  the head of the list, this would be the fifth woman in such a position so far.

Although women are usually allowed to lead in times of crisis (the so-called “glass cliff”, as seen with Alenka Bratušek becoming prime minister during the peak of the last financial crisis, of Theresa May taking charge after the Brexit vote) or when no chance of winning is in sight (five women were pushed into the race against the incumbent and very popular President Borut Pahor who was running for a second term in 2017). With few exceptions this time the female candidates are strong and experienced politicians, with, hopefully, good chances of winning their European Parliament seats, which continues to be seen as an honorable and well-rewarded job.

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NSi: Ljudmila Novak, one of the strongest female politicians in the country and former party president, managed to beat her party colleague, current member of the European Parliament and one of independent Slovenia’s first generation of politicians, Lojze Peterle, at the top of the list. With Ljudmila at the top, Lojze fell to no. 3.

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SD: Tanja Fajon, current Member of the European Parliament. One of most active and recognisable Slovenian politicians serving in Brussels.

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Levica: Violeta Tomič. The former actress is one of the strongest female politicians in Slovenia, and also one of the two transnational spitzenkandidaten of the oppositional “European Left”.

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LMŠ: Irena Joveva, a 30 year-old journalist without any political experience.

While recent polls suggest strong popular support for Marjan Šarec List (LMŠ) it remains to be seen how this latest choice might affect the party’s popularity. So far the group’s success has been mainly based on the charisma of its leader and the current Prime Minister, Marjan Šarec.

At the press conference on Monday Šarec explained his party’s choice of candidates with the following words: “This is like sending a song to the Eurovision song contest. It is difficult to know what the winning formula might be.”

07 Mar 2019, 12:45 PM

STA, 6 March 2019 - The government managed to get the revised budget for 2019 through parliament on Thursday with the help of the opposition Left. But the vote does not end uncertainty over this year's spending, as the upper chamber has indicated a veto was possible and the Left may make its support in a re-vote conditional on additional spending.

The supplementary budget sets expenditure at EUR 10.16bn, a rise of EUR 463m or 4.8% from the original budget. Revenue is to go up even more, by 6.2% or EUR 599m to EUR 10.35bn, exceeding EUR 10bn-mark for the first time, mostly due to significantly higher public sector wages.

The adjustments increase funding for almost all ministries despite warnings from the centre-right opposition and the Fiscal Council that such spending hikes risked setting up Slovenia for trouble now that economic growth had started to cool down.

The government has rejected criticism with the argument that the spending blueprint was treading a middle path between exclusive focus on welfare and excessive austerity. It insists the budget is fiscally sustainable.

The budget was passed without the support of the opposition Democrats (SDS) and New Slovenia (NSi). The former argued that the government had ignored warnings of the Fiscal Council, while the latter was bothered by the rejection of the amendments filed by the SDS, NSi and the National Party (SNS).

The three opposition parties had filed 34 amendments, mainly concerning the funding of infrastructural projects, but all of them were rejected.

But the SNS nevertheless supported the budget. According to party head Zmago Jelinčič, this was only to see how the European Commission will respond.

To secure passage, the government has had to reach a deal with the Left that entails additional spending potentially running into several hundred million euro on policies including precarious work forms, housing, corporate tax, wages, pensions and healthcare.

The initial plan was that the pact would be signed before today's vote, but due to apprehension by some coalition partners, in particular the Social Democrats (SD) and the Modern Centre Party (SMC), it was merely initialled after a half-hour recess in which the final details were hammered out.

The leader of the Left, Luka Mesec, said the deal was very similar to the one that was initialled with the government last summer. He expects it to be signed in the coming days.

In line with the deal, the leader and the secretary of the Left will from now on be invited to the meetings of coalition deputy groups every Tuesday.

The head of the deputy group of the ruling Marjan Šarec Party (LMŠ), Brane Golubović, rejected criticism that the agreement had not been coordinated with other coalition parties, saying that all ministries concerned had participated in the talks, including those led by ministers of the SMC and SD.

There has been some speculation that the pact with the Left may be sidelined after the budget is confirmed, but this would leave the budget vulnerable in the event of an upper chamber veto, which is possible given the balance of power in the chamber.

The National Council recently denied support to the budget, with councillors voicing complaints about government plans in the area of local government and regional development.

Any vetoed legislation would requires confirmation by 46 MPs in the 90-member National Assembly. The coalition only has 43 votes.

Prime Minister Marjan Šarec said he was not surprised by the threat of the veto. "I only hope to hear some solid arguments, because the ones I heard today are very shaky considering the wishes of those presenting them and are reminiscent of horse-trading," the PM said.

05 Mar 2019, 10:23 AM

https://english.sta.si/2612119/pahor-promises-slovenias-support-for-albania-on-way-to-eu

Pahor: Slovenia Will Support Albanian Membership of EU

STA, 4 March 2019 - President Borut Pahor started his two-day official visit to Albania on Monday by meeting his counterpart Ilir Meta and promising continued Slovenian support for Albania's efforts to join the EU. Pahor and Meta also confirmed the interest of both countries to expand political and business cooperation.

The two presidents agreed that bilateral political cooperation is good, and that bilateral relations are friendly and without open issues, Pahor's office said in a press release.

The Slovenian president believes that there are numerous opportunities for further cooperation, especially in business, where it has been relatively modest so far.

Albania was only the 58th Slovenian trade partner in 2017, with the countries exchanging EUR 53.1m in goods. Bilateral trade picked up somewhat last year.

Meta acquainted Pahor with the progress Albania has made in implementing the key priorities required to open the EU accession negotiations. He expects that Albania will get the green light to launch the talks in June.

Pahor said that Slovenia would continue to support Albania in these efforts and promised assistance in and support for the reform process in Albania.

He stressed that the enlargement of the EU to the Western Balkans should be treated as a geopolitical and not a technical issue.

The two presidents also discussed Albania's preparations to host a meeting of a summit of the Brdo-Brijuni Process on 8 and 9 May. They agreed that the regional cooperation initiative had resulted in numerous positive shifts.

On the first day of the visit, Pahor also met Prime Minister Edi Rama, and is also scheduled to meet Lulzim Basha, the head of the Democratic Party of Albania, the main opposition party in the country.

On Tuesday, Pahor Pahor will meet with Chairman of the Parliament of Albania Gramoz Ruci and Mayor of Tirana Erion Velia.

He will visit the nearby town of Kruje, the home town of national hero Skenderbeg (1405-1468).

04 Mar 2019, 17:26 PM

STA, 4 March 2019 - President Borut Pahor will embark on a two-day official visit to Albania today. Hosted by his counterpart Ilir Meta, he will also meet Prime Minister Edi Rama and Speaker Gramoz Ruci, the president's office said in a press release.

The visit is seen as an opportunity to get more closely acquainted with Albania's domestic political situation and its headway in EU accession negotiations.

Pahor wants to strengthen the already good bilateral ties and cooperation between the countries and he intends to express Slovenia's support for Albania's EU accession efforts, the president's office said.

Albanian and Slovenian representatives will also exchange views on topical issues in the region and regional cooperation, also in the light of the Brdo-Brijuni summit, which Albania will host in May.

Pahor is moreover expected to underline the importance of continuous constructive cooperation among neighbours and countries in the region.

He will arrive in Tirana in the afternoon and hold a tete-a-tete with Meta, followed by bilateral meetings of the Slovenian and Albanian delegations.

The presidents will hold a joint press conference, after which Pahor will meet Rama, followed by a meeting with Luzim Basha, the head of the opposition Democratic Party. Tonight, Meta will host a dinner in Pahor's honour.

On Tuesday, Pahor will lay a wreath at a burial site dedicated to national heroes and meet Mayor of Tirana Erion Velia. He will moreover visit the nearby town of Kruje, the home town of national hero Skenderbeg (1405-1468). Pahor will also meet the speaker on the second day of his visit.

Pahor's meetings in Tirana will also revolve around cooperation in multilateral organisations, which is deemed good.

While the countries have good political ties, there is still room for improvement in economic cooperation, which is relatively modest.

Albania ranked 58th among Slovenia's trade partners in 2017, with trade amounting to EUR 53.1m. Data for the first three quarters of 2018 place the trade figure at EUR 34.3m, 14.1% less than in the same period in 2017.

The countries are also linked in terms of development aid, as Slovenia provided more than EUR 2m in aid to Albania between 2010 and 2016.

Moreover, Slovenia supported several projects in Albania in 2017 and 2018 relating to the EU, women's empowerment and environmental protection.

04 Mar 2019, 11:53 AM

STA, 2 March 2019 - The parliamentary Finance Committee rejected all amendments to the revised 2019 budget filed by the three right-leaning opposition parties as it debated the document on Saturday, with the parties seeking to redistribute some EUR 80m out of more than EUR 10bn in expenditure, mainly for infrastructure projects.

Debating the document as the last parliamentary working body before the next week's plenary vote, the committee rejected all 34 amendments filed by the Democrats (SDS), New Slovenia (NSi) and National Party (SNS).

In addition to infrastructure projects and support activities in the fields of labour, the family and social affairs, the SDS wanted that the government earmark an extra EUR 15m for investments in school and sport infrastructure.

The proposals from the NSi that an additional EUR 10m is earmarked for the maintenance of cultural heritage sites, and EUR 5m each for investments in schools and kindergartens have also failed to garner sufficient support.

The party is not satisfied either with the amount of funds earmarked for the Government Office for Slovenians Abroad, which it would increase by EUR 500,000.

The three parties also proposed that additional funds be earmarked for the development of a number of road sections, but all proposals were rejected by the committee.

The revised 2019 budget, which was discussed by the other parliamentary bodies at the beginning of February, increases the planned revenue by 6.2% to EUR 10.35bn, and expenditure by 4.8% to EUR 10.16bn.

The budget is thus expected to have EUR 193.6m in surplus by the end of the year, which is 0.4% of Slovenia's gross domestic product (GDP), said Finance Minister Andrej Bertoncelj as he presented the documents to the MPs.

The minister said that the budget was stable and development-oriented, and that it represented the foundation for structural measures. The main priorities are healthcare, science, infrastructure and drawing of the EU funds.

Bertoncelj also pointed to the objective of reducing general government debt and noted that the state of public finances was improving, which positively affected economic growth. This also shows in increased tax revenue, he added.

However, the Fiscal Council, the body advising the government how to follow the golden fiscal rule, has warned that the planned expenditure is too high, while the budget has also been criticised by the opposition.

The SDS deputies said at today's session that the budget did not ensure medium-term stability of public finances, and that it did not contain any measures which would reduce structural deficit.

The NSi is reserved to the budget too, with MP Ljudmila Novak noting that while expenditure was increasing, there were no measures which would bring long-term revenue to the budget.

"Revenue will be really high until the economic growth is high, but we know that the economy is already cooling down, particularly in Germany, on which Slovenian exporters depend greatly."

Anja Bah Žibert (SDS) does not agree that the budget is development-oriented as it "has no true objectives at all", while Jani Ivanuša (SNS) warned against excessive expenditure as the expected economic growth is only an estimate.

Jože Lenart of the ruling Marjan Šarec Party (LMŠ) retorted that "you cannot develop by saving money", noting that the additional expenditure would go for development and reforms dictated by the demographic trends.

Matjaž Han of the coalition Social Democrats (SD) said that "we never had so much money than now in the last 15, 20 years", adding that this was also a result of policies of the previous governments, not only of the current one.

The document was also endorsed by the Alenka Bratušek Party (SAB) as it gives more funds for municipalities, public sector and pensioners, as well as healthcare, research and social affairs.

Also promising support for the budget is the opposition Left as the partner of the minority coalition, with MP Luka Mesec assessing that it was both socially- and development oriented, which was something Slovenia needed at the moment.

However, the coordinator of the party said earlier today that an agreement was expected to be signed between the Left and the coalition on cooperation for this year before the vote on the budget, which is to take place on Wednesday.

The committee also went through changes to the act implementing the 2018 and 2019 budgets, which accompanies the revised 2019 budget. Minister Bertoncelj said that the document reduces the required amount of borrowing by the state.

Compared to the current act, the amount for 2019 is reduced by some EUR 1.4bn, the minister told the MPs, with EUR 1.89bn being required for the implementation of the budget instead of EUR 3.26bn.

The document takes into account the planned budget surplus of EUR 193.6m, EUR 570.5m in pre-financing in 2018 and the EUR 602.6m in proceeds from the privatisation of the NLB bank last November.

The state has already secured a part of the needed EUR 1.89bn with a EUR 1.5bn bond issue in January.

02 Mar 2019, 09:29 AM

STA, 1 March 2019 - President Borut Pahor concluded on Friday his three-day official visit to the United Kingdom by visiting the City of London to meet representatives of the London Stock Exchange and Lord Mayor of the City of London Peter Estlin.

London Stock Exchange chairman Donald Brydon presented the institution to Pahor, and they also exchanges views on the situation on the financial markets and the global economy, the president's office said in a press release.

The Slovenian president then visited the London office of the US multinational investment bank Goldman Sachs to discuss how the global financial industry views the expected changes in Europe, including Brexit.

In the meeting with Estlin, Pahor focused on how Brexit will reflect on the role of the City of London as one of the most important and busiest financial centres in the world.

Pahor concluded today's visit at the seat of the insurance and reinsurance market Lloyd's of London, the president's office added.

It noted that the UK was important global partner to Slovenia, with trade with the country increasing by 2% in 2017 to EUR 921.5m, with the positive trend also continuing last year.

The UK is also an important partner in investments and tourism, with the number of British tourists in Slovenia growing.

"By leaving the European Union, the United Kingdom is not leaving Europe and it remains our important business partner and a security ally in NATO," the office said.

On the first day of the visit, Pahor met Prince Edward and Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, who visited Slovenia last week. Pahor and Hunt discussed bilateral relations and Brexit.

On Thursday, the Slovenian president was received by Queen Elizabeth II at the Buckingham Palace, after laying a wreath to the memorial to innocent victims of war and oppression in front of Westminster Abbey.

Other stories on President Pahor’s UK Visit:

Pahor in UK this Week to Discuss Brexit (Background)

Pahor & Hunt Say Slovenia-UK Relations Good, Will Remain So After Brexit

Pahor Meets the Queen, UK Visit Continues Friday

President Borut Pahor: The Geopolitical Positioning of Europe (Video)

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