Healthcare, Pensions Priorities for Slovenia’s Budgets in 2020, 2021

By , 11 Jun 2019, 13:48 PM Politics
Healthcare, Pensions Priorities for Slovenia’s Budgets in 2020, 2021 JL Flanner

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STA, 10 June 2019 - Coalition partners and ministers agreed at Monday's summit that healthcare and the pension system would be the priorities of Slovenia's budgets in 2020 and 2021. Each will get EUR 200-300 million more annually.

Nevertheless, Finance Minister Andrej Bertoncelj said as he spoke to the press after the Brdo pri Kranju meeting the budgets would still be in surplus.

The coalition and government partners met to agree further steps in planning the budgets for the coming two years.

The government is due to send the draft budgets to parliament by 1 October based on a budgeting decree which was passed in April.

The decree caps expenses for 2020 at EUR 10.45 billion, whereas for 2021, they can be a bit higher, at EUR 10.50 million.

Bertoncelj said he had presented the planned revenue and the spending ceilings for the state budget, the health and pension purses as well as for local government.

He expects the government to meet for its first session dedicated to the budget on 4 July, by when the ceilings for individual budget users should be ready.

Although he does not expect everyone to be happy with the distribution of funds, Bertoncelj intends to insist on the ceilings set in April, since this would keep the budgets within the fiscal rule.

The coalition also agreed to have the budget surplus at around 1% of the country's GDP, while Bertoncelj would also like to cut pubic debt to 65% and 61% of GDP, respectively, with a view to have a structurally balanced budget by 2022.

"The budgets for the next two years will have to be within this framework, and we committed to it today," he stressed.

The budgets will be drafted on the basis of the government's macroeconomic forecaster IMAD's outlook, which puts Slovenia's growth for 2020 at 3.1% and at 2.8% for 2021.

Bertoncelj pointed out Slovenia's GDP growth was now double the eurozone average, and its public debt was being reduced the fastest among all eurozone members.

Health Minister Aleš Šabeder, on the other hand, presented the situation in healthcare, noting the priorities were a long-term care bill, improving the management of medical organisations and reducing waiting times.

Happy the healthcare system can count on an additional EUR 400-600 million in 2020-2021, he said the funds would have to be spent in line with the priorities.

"All resources on the market will probably have to be identified and a decision made on how to involve them in cutting the long waiting times," said Šabeder.

Prime Minister Marjan Šarec agreed, but was quick to add this should not be a cover for "permanent privatisation" of the healthcare system.

Šabeder stressed the long waiting times would first be tackled where they were the severest, announcing the first pilot project for orthopaedics.

He, however, admitted his ministry was just starting to tackle the issue, stressing waiting time records would first have to be sorted out.

Šabeder believes more funds would have to be provided to finance not just individual doctors but entire teams of doctors and nurses to cut the waiting periods.

He said the bill on long-term care could be adopted by the end of the year, but noted it was too early to discuss funding, as several scenarios were still being studied.

The coalition partners were generally happy with the summit, with Defence Minister Karl Erjavec, the leader of the Pensioners' Party, saying the budgets should make it possible to meet the country's commitments to NATO and to raise pensions.

Šarec, on the other hand, said names of Slovenia's possible candidate for the European commissioner had not been discussed.

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