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.
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
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.
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.
SD: Tanja Fajon, current Member of the European Parliament. One of most active and recognisable Slovenian politicians serving in Brussels.
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”.
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.”
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.
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.
Economic & trade relations & also regional coop. the main focus of today’s talks w/ President of #Slovenia @BorutPahor. Grateful for ?? support in the framework of the #european integration process & in opening accession negotiations with #EU. ????? pic.twitter.com/utRM7VGZha— Ilir Meta (@ilirmetazyrtar) March 4, 2019
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.
Srečanje predsednika Republike Slovenije Boruta Pahorja s predsednikom Vlade Republike Albanije Edijem Ramo. pic.twitter.com/KqkBSM664H— Borut Pahor (@BorutPahor) March 4, 2019
Very pleased to welcome to Tirana, President of #Slovenia @BorutPahor. Strong common will & interest to give a new impulse & intensify relations btw. the two countries. Slovenia is an important regional and #european partner for #Albania. ????? pic.twitter.com/pX1wMLBXr8— Ilir Meta (@ilirmetazyrtar) March 4, 2019
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).
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.
Predsednik Republike Slovenije Borut Pahor se na povabilo predsednika Republike Albanije Ilirja Mete mudi na uradnem obisku v Republiki Albaniji. pic.twitter.com/poYoITVMWh— Borut Pahor (@BorutPahor) March 4, 2019
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.
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.
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.
V okviru uradnega obiska v Združenem kraljestvu je predsednik republike Borut Pahor danes obiskal Londonsko borzo in se srečal z vodstvom borze. pic.twitter.com/cbQWT26hzn— Borut Pahor (@BorutPahor) March 1, 2019
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:
STA, 1 March 2019 - Peter Vilfan resigned as state secretary in charge of sports at the prime minister's office on Friday, following over a month of speculation that he evaded taxes. In his resignation, Vilfan once again denied being audited by the Financial Administration (FURS) or being issued a fine.
Prime Minister Marjan Šarec responded by saying that he accepted Vilfan's resignation.
In mid-January news portal Požareport said that Vilfan, a former basketball player, had been receiving sizeable payments from two TV stations for serving as basketball commentator.
Požareport said that the public TV Slovenija and commercial media company ProPlus paid the fees to Vilfan's own sports association and that he cooked the books to avoid tens of thousands of euro in taxes.
Vilfan on the other hand said that he had been paid about EUR 1,500 a month, while the figures circulated in the public were much higher.
Moreover, in late February the weekly Reporter said that Vilfan had been fined by FURS, which he denied immediately.
"Let me assure the public that neither I nor my association have been in any offence proceedings, and we have not been issued any decision or fine by FURS," Vilfan said in his letter of resignation forwarded to the media by the Pensioners' Party (DeSUS), of which he is a member.
In his response last week, Vilfan said that "the association filed a report on its own with FURS" and that they "are jointly examining a period of several years for possible accounting errors or irregularities".
DeSUS confirmed today that the review was concluded on Monday and the certain accounting irregularities had been discovered.
The party's president Karl Erjavec said he regretted the developments but respected Vilfan's decision.
Vilfan announced he was leaving politics for good. He was first elected to parliament as a member of Positive Slovenija of Ljubljana Mayor Zoran Janković in 2011, defecting to the Alenka Bratušek Party (SAB) after a split in 2014.
After being reelected MP in 2014, he joined the Pensioners' Party (DeSUS) in 2015, serving out his term until 2018 but he did not get re-elected in the June 2018 election. Instead, he was appointed state secretary at the PM's office.
He also commented matches when he served as an MP between 2011 and 2018, having being granted the permit by parliament.
A member of the Yugoslav national team that won the 1978 FIBA World Championship, Vilfan commented the 2017 EuroBasket matches for ProPlus channels POP TV and Kanal A under a similar arrangement as with RTV Slovenija.
Vilfan's resignation comes two days after Šarec accepted the resignation of Environment Minister Jure Leben, the third member of his cabinet leaving the government which was sworn in in September 2018.
STA, 1 March 2019 - The resignation of Marjan Šarec List (LMŠ) deputy Darij Krajčič over a stolen sandwich is not final yet. The National Assembly is to take note of his resignation on Monday, but now the MP whose story was picked up by international media, has second thoughts about resigning. PM Šarec said Krajčič would be expelled from the LMŠ if he did no resign.
Krajčič told the STA and the newspaper Dnevnik today that he was considering withdrawing his resignation and would make his final decision known by Monday, when the National Assembly is to discuss his case.
The MP of the ruling coalition party said today that his decision to step down may had been too hasty.
He said that in the meantime legal experts had warned him that his action, which he called a "social experiment", did not constitute a theft.
"With theft some other conditions must be met, including an intent to benefit from it, keeping it a secret and not paying for the item."
In contrast, Krajčič took a sandwich out of a store without paying it impulsively, only to tell about it soon after and paying for the sandwich later.
The MP said at the time he had been waiting with the sandwich for several minutes while three shop assistants were talking without paying any attention to him, so he decided to "check their system of control."
Krajčič, who told the story to the members of the parliamentary Agriculture Committee soon after, regretted the incident and tendered in his resignation later on.
The story was picked up by global media such as the BBC, Die Presse, Kurier, and Europe Times.
Krajčič said the LMŠ had expected him to resign after the story came out but that he had felt no pressure about his decision now.
Nevertheless, Prime Minister Marjan Šarec indicated today Krajčič would be dismissed as LMŠ member if he did not resign.
But he added that nobody could force him to step down because MPs are autonomous in this respect. "I said what I had to say. I think that an MP loses their join if they resign but preserves or gets their dignity," Šarec said.
Krajčič too said he could not be kicked out of the deputy group and noted that another option was for him to become an independent MP.
The LMŠ deputy group has not commented yet.
STA, 1 March 2019 - The latest editorial of the left-leaning weekly Mladina tears apart the Finance Ministry's tax reform proposal as yet another taxation tweak to primarily benefits the rich.
Only two years have passed since the last changes that brought the biggest tax burden reduction and greatest gains for those who already have high wages.
While Prime Minister Marjan Šarec now stands to gain almost EUR 1,000 a year, his predecessor Miro Carar saw his wage rise by EUR 2,000 net at the annual level or to EUR 3,457 net a month, effective on 1 January 2017.
The argument keeps repeating - "we are doing this because of those who are the most productive", editor-in-chief Grega Repovž says, labelling this as despicable deceit by those working for the benefit of their own class.
It is true that high wages are taxed more in Slovenia, but on the other hand property is not subject to any serious taxation and the bulk of the income of the wealthiest stems from property.
Meanwhile, the taxation of the average wages of those in whose name the wealthiest would get even more after this reform is comparable to that in similar countries in Europe and is for instance lower than in Austria, Repovž says in the editorial entitled New Tax Cuts for the Rich.
At the same, the government is shying away from a real estate tax or from heavier taxation of those letting out several apartments, while it has also avoided reforming the compulsory health insurance system that continues to channel large sums of public money to private insurers.
This is an arrogant and offensive tax reform proposal that benefits the wealthy and should be withdrawn, Repovž says, adding PM Šarec dismissed the wrong minister this week.
STA, 28 February 2019 - In its latest commentary, the right-leaning weekly Demokracija is flabbergasted by the fact that a majority of the Slovenian media dedicated almost no attention to the warnings from the Fiscal Council that the general government expenditure planned for 2019 should be EUR 270m lower.
The warning about the need for the country to preserve a structural balance in compliance with the fiscal rule was buried quickly, ending up somewhere "on the dark side of the internet", editor-in-chief Jože Biščak says.
Is the expansive fiscal policy, which could cause a headache in the autumn, really a marginal topic, he wonders. It obviously is, as the media are busy "inflating the popularity of the prime minister," he adds in the commentary entitled It's Good to Be Marjan Šarec.
Šarec is really happy because, as the global economic situation is getting increasingly unpredictable, and forecasts more pessimistic than optimistic, the media do not bother him with questions about what to do if the economic growth happens to be lower than expected.
The fear of the 2008 crisis repeating has made the smart countries (Germany, Norway) start accumulating surpluses and creating reserves, while others are reducing general government debt (Estonia, the Czech Republic).
The only solution for the Slovenian government, if it wants to keep the public sector in the current size and meet the obligations given to the sector "either blindfolded or drunk on power", will be to increase the already high taxes.
The problem is not in taxes themselves, but what you get in return. According to an analysis by the Quality of Government Institute, Slovenia belongs to the countries which spend much, while giving back little to the citizens.
All our posts in this series can be found here
STA, 28 February STA - Infrastructure Minister Alenka Bratušek announced on Thursday the dismissal of Damir Topolko as the head of the Infrastructure Agency following the escalation of the scandal surrounding the dodgy tender for the Koper port rail track model.
The announcement comes after PM Marjan Šarec accepted on Wednesday the resignation of Environment Minister and former Infrastructure Ministry State Secretary Jure Leben while also calling for the resignation of Topolko.
The official video introducing the Koper-Divača "second rail" project
While Šarec had suggested that everyone else involved in the possibly rigged 2017 tender for the EUR 130,000 scale model should follow Leben's example, Bratušek said Šarec and her agreed today that conditions were not met yet to dismiss certain public servants.
Bratušek said the scandal also bore on other ministry employees, they however "cannot accept political responsibility for this fiasco"
As regards Topolko, Šarec and Bratušek both felt it was time to find a new name for the head of the Infrastructure Agency, which was responsible for the tender, carried out as a PR move for the EUR 1bn-plus investment in the Divača-Koper rail expansion.
"My predecessor Peter Gašperšič could have already done that," said Bratušek, adding a candidate had not yet been found to replace Topolko, who has ran the agency since mid-2015.
"But they didn't do it. I sense it was because that would mean revealing what is being revealed now: that the former leadership of this ministry was actively involved in the public procurement of this scale model, even though it is unusual for a minister or state secretary to interfere with public tenders," she added.
Bratušek said the scale model story had been inherited by her and that it was casting a bad light on the rail project that is now being managed differently and was on track on getting fully covered financially by the end of May.