The Left Criticises Budget for Favouring Military Over Welfare

By , 22 Nov 2018, 11:50 AM Politics
M153 CROWS mounted on a U.S. Army M-ATV - Oshkosh M-ATV M153 CROWS mounted on a U.S. Army M-ATV - Oshkosh M-ATV Wikipedia, public domain

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STA, 21 November 2018 - Luka Mesec, the leader of the Left, pinpointed some of the issues for the party in the draft supplementary budget for 2019 on Wednesday by saying that the government faced the dilemma between "guns and butter".

Mesec said the Left, a partner to the Marjan Šarec minority government, was happy that the draft budget implementation bill envisaged an increase in the annual allowance for pensioners, an extra adjustment of pensions, and 10 new jobs at the Labour Inspectorate.

The draft, which the party received today, also contains a provision saying that public sector staff would as a rule have salaried jobs instead of being hired by agencies, which means they will also have appertaining worker rights.

However, Mesec said that there was a major flaw in the draft, which was that social transfers such as child benefit, baby bonus, unemployment benefit, disability benefits and scholarships would not be adjusted to inflation next year, measures valued at EUR 16m.

Mesec juxtaposed that to the EUR 15.5m deal to procure 38 Oshkosh armoured personnel vehicles for the Slovenian Armed Forces to form a battalion-sized battlegroup, the signing of which had been confirmed by Defence Minister Karl Erjavec.

The Left has been opposing the deal for months on the grounds that Slovenia is not facing any such threat to national security. Mesec said that even in case of aggression against Slovenia, the four-wheelers would not come useful because they were meant for offensive rather than defensive action, while they were also useless for civilian purposes.

The party thus called on the government to reconsider the contract. It will also call a session of the parliamentary Defence Committee to propose rescinding the deal and a legislative amendment under which any defence procurement in excess of EUR 1m would require parliament's consent.

The Slovenian military has had no casualties for more than two decades

In response the Defence Ministry said that the Oshkosh light combat all-terrain vehicles to be supplied to the army between 2021 and 2023, would replace the worn out Hummer vehicles and would provide troops with a high-level of protection, which was one of the main reasons for the purchase.

The ministry said that a well-protected armoured vehicle had proven to be essential for the survival of teams in combat and non-combat incidents as the one in Afghanistan a few years ago as Slovenian troops on a routine mission run onto an explosive device and "the vehicle's armour prevented fatalities and major injury".

The ministry said that Slovenia was one of few countries without casualties during more than two decades it had been participating in various international missions, and that high security and protection standards would remain a key requirement in army equipment in the future.

The ministry initiated procurement of 38 Oshkosh light combat vehicles in the previous term and completed it last week by signing an agreement with the US administration.

All our stories about the Slovenian military are here

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