STA, 5 October 2020 - Prime Minster Janez Janša presented a draft bill on a National Demographic Fund, a new overarching state fund designed to pool all state assets to shore up the pension system, to the Economic Social Council (ESS) on Monday before the government adopted it later in the day.
Janša told the government's social partners on the ESS - employers and trade unions - it would be only right for the generation of pensioners which created state assets to benefit from them when it retired.
He said part of the funds would go for pensions, part for long-term care and part for construction of care homes and for family policy measures.
The bill, which follows the principle of social justness, will be discussed by the ESS and in parliament simultaneously, and the debates will aim to be as efficient as possible so as to prevent unnecessary delays, Janša was quoted as saying by his office.
The Finance Ministry noted as the government adopted the bill today that the costs of population ageing would increase from 21.9% of GDP in 2016 to as much as 28.2% by 2070. The number of pensioners is expected to rise by some 20% in the next 50 years.
The bill is to take over the assets currently held by Slovenian Sovereign Holding, the bad bank, the para-state DSU and KAD funds, the pension insurer Modra Zavarovalnica and the stake in insurer Zavarovalnica Triglav currently held by public pension insurer ZPIZ.
The assets to be managed by the Demographic Fund are currently valued at almost EUR 8.6 billion and according to current plans, 40% of dividends and 60% of proceeds from the sale of stock would be retained so that the assets under management grow in the long term. 40% of the dividends would finance public pensions, while the rest would go towards financing family policies and construction of nursing homes.
Following Janša's presentation of the bill, Jakob Počivavšek of the Pergam association of public sector trade unions told the press a proper debate would still have to be held at an ESS session and within the negotiating group which the ESS has already established.
He said Pergam found some points controversial, including the use of funds for day-to-day costs and the absence of other sources of financing. The union is also reserved about the idea of merging assets and the influence of politics on the management of assets.
Employers' Association head Jože Smole said he expected a constructive debate. "Our starting point needs to be that this bill, given its importance, receives the widest possible social consensus, with social dialogue being one of the options of coordination," he said, expressing optimism about the outcome.
Smole welcomed Janša's decision to present the bill in person, saying this was a sign of respect for social dialogue.
Director general of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GZS) Sonja Šmuc said employers were mostly interested in how companies under the fund would be able to develop. "It is important to find the right balance between the investment and dividend policies," she said.
Secretary general of the Union of Shop Assistants Ladi Rožič expressed concern that there "will not be enough money to fulfil all the wishes". Janša said all remarks would be taken into account, but there will most certainly be a lot of desires, Rožič said.
In the afternoon, the prime minister also discussed the bill and the rival opposition-sponsored bill on the new fund with the head of the Association of Pensioners (ZDUS), Janez Sušnik. Sušnik told the STA both bills had some good solutions, but while the government's is bolder, the opposition's is more savings-oriented.
Sušnik and Janša agreed that a ZDUS task force will prepare its remarks to the government proposal within 10 days. ZDUS welcomes the planned concentration of state investments within the fund but only if no assets are sold, Sušnik said.
A potentially good solution from the opposition-sponsored bill is according to ZDUS collecting part of the funds from excise duties, income tax and other sources.
The opposition Social Democrats (SD) also started presenting their bill today after submitting it to parliament with the support of the fellow opposition Alenka Bratušek Party (SAB).
The proposal, which stipulates that the money generated with the help of the fund would be used exclusively for pensions after 2040 and for protecting strategically important companies from privatisation, was presented to the ZZZS trade union confederation, but the SD would also like it discussed by the ESS.
The opposition Marjan Šarec List (LMŠ), the Left, SD and SAB today repeated their criticism of the government-sponsored bill, with LMŠ head Marjan Šarec saying it envisaged looting of all that was left in this country. Labelling the fund a smokescreen, he said it was a way to bribe the Pensioners' Party (DeSUS), which has been demanding such a fund.
Left leader Luka Mesec said the bill was about "the kidnapping of state assets" and warned that some of Slovenia's strategic companies could fall in the hands of the oligarchy around Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban.
All our stories on demographis in Slovenia
STA, 1 October 2020 - An ageing society, Slovenia has some 424,000 elderly, that is people aged 65 or more, or almost 20% of its population. Still, the elderly seem to be quite fit, with over a third saying their health is good or very good prior to the 1 October International Day of Older Persons, this year dedicated to health amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
At the moment the most burning issue regarding the elderly in Slovenia is containing the spread of the virus at care homes, which are home to some 4% of the elderly.
Related: Slovenia’s Aging Population, in Graphic Form (as shown in the main image to this story)
Several care homes were hotspots of the spring wave of the coronavirus epidemic, with official statistics showing more than 80% of all fatalities were older than 75.
The epidemic has also painfully exposed the dire staffing situation at public care homes, although they can count on 550 new jobs in the next two years.
The government has already earmarked EUR 29 million for the purpose, while the new stimulus package, which is yet to be passed in parliament, is to introduce the option of temporary redeployment of care and health staff to care homes.
Another burning issue is the long time it takes to get a bed in a care home; data from the Association of Care Homes show over 12,200 applications are pending.
The ministry in charge of social affairs has promised additional beds would be provided through concessions for public care home services and through the drawing of EU funds.
The EU funds would be used to increase daycare centre and temporary accommodation capacity, with a tender for building 20 daycare centres and 10 temporary accommodation units currently open, Minister Janez Cigler Kralj has recently said.
Capacity constraints are also expected to be further addressed with a new bill on long-term care, which would make the elderly eligible for assistance at home, if they wish so.
More funds for the elderly are to come from the planned national demographic fund, which is to manage state assets worth almost EUR 8.6 billion, and provide 10% of dividends and the money from the sale of state assets for building elderly homes. 40% of the dividends would go to co-finance the public pension budget.
In its message issued prior to International Day of Older Persons, the Slovenian Pensioner Association (ZDUS) urged treating the elderly as equals in society.
ZDUS joined calls by international NGOs and the UN for for inter-generational cooperation, tolerance, cooperation and fight against prejudice and discrimination on the basis of age. It said the elderly do not want to be a burden, they demand only what they are entitled to by the constitution and by modern civilisational standards.
Other associations have highlighted the Covid-19-related issues they face.
The pensioners' trade union pointed out that the novel coronavirus and its ramifications had revealed that the authorities had been ignoring burning issues of the elderly for decades.
There is still no long-term care system, whereas healthcare has not been adjusted to the needs of the elderly and disabled. A large number of older persons live in poverty and unacceptable living conditions and there is not enough bed vacancies in nursing homes, it added.
Srebrna Nit, an association promoting dignified old age, warned about obstacles which had prevented the elderly from making use of new measures introduced this year.
Small pensions that are not enough to make it possible for the elderly to redeem government holiday vouchers and technical issues preventing them from using free public transportation are examples of such obstacles.
New Covid-19-related restrictions for the elderly are on the horizon after the community was already restricted to certain shopping hours during the epidemic, said Srebrna Nit, deeming the measure discriminatory towards older persons and a violation of human rights.
Similarly, Equal Opportunities Ombudsman Miha Lobnik said the elderly had been severely affected by the pandemic, urging the government not to forget about their needs when attending to public interest.
Urging proportionate measures in protecting vulnerable groups, he said the elderly had been allowed to do their shopping only in dedicated hours while banned from shops in the rest of the day for a period during the spring lockdown, adding no other EU country had had such a measure in place.
The UN declared the day 30 years ago to highlight the role of older persons and their contribution in society, with this year's lead theme being "Pandemic: Do They Change how We Address Age and Ageing?"
Statistics Office (SURS) data for 2019 show that 37% of Slovenian elderly people assessed their health as good or very good, up from 26% in 2010, as opposed to 21% who said their health was poor or very poor, down from 33%.
Nevertheless, 65% of all older persons had a chronic condition or another health issue, but 57% engage in recreational activity at least 150 minutes a week, which is the World Health Organisation's minimum to keep healthy.
SURS data for the start of 2019 show that the share of the elderly in Slovenia rose from 17% ten years ago to almost 20% in 2019, which translates into some 424,000 people.
However, the EUROPOP 2019 projection for Slovenia shows that in ten years' time the elderly will account for 24% of Slovenia's population; in 50 years the share will rise to 31%.
All our stories on demographics and Slovenia
STA, 15 September 2020 - The coalition partners appear to have agreed the outlines of a new Demographic Fund, which would manage state assets and provide an extra source of financing of public pensions. The bulk of partially or wholly state-owned companies would come under the control of the new entity.
The fund will own all assets currently held by the Slovenian Sovereign Holding (SSH), the bad bank, the para-state DSU and KAD funds, the pension insurer Modra Zavarovalnica and the stake in insurer Zavarovalnica Triglav currently held by the public pension insurer ZPIZ.
DARS, the national motorway company, will not be transferred to the Demographic Fund, although that might yet change, Robert Polnar, MP for the Pensioners' Party (DeSUS), told the press after a coalition meeting on Tuesday.
The assets to be managed by the Demographic Fund are currently valued at EUR 8.5 billion. Together with DARS, that would climb to EUR 11.5 billion.
According to current plans, 40% of dividends and 60% of proceeds from the sale of stock would be retained so that the assets under management grow in the long term. 40% of the dividends would finance public pensions, while the rest would go towards financing family policies and construction of nursing homes.
The fund's supervisory board will have 13 members, four appointed by the government and nine at the proposal of deputy groups. The supervisors will appoint a three-member management board.
Polnar said the proposal would now be put to the Economic and Social Council and was expected to be on the parliament's agenda before the end of the year.
The Demographic Fund is one of the biggest projects undertaken by the government, and the no. 1 priority for the DeSUS.
It has been under consideration for nearly a decade but successive governments have failed to agree its exact make-up.
In this government, the question which assets will be transferred to the fund and who will name the supervisory were reportedly the most problematic issues.
Coalition partners emphasised that the main points have now been agreed and said the relevant law was on track for passage by the end of the year.
Jožef Horvat of New Slovenia (NSi) welcomed the decision to spend a portion of the funds on family policies, while the Modern Centre Party's (SMC) Janja Sluga said SMC's warnings that it was necessary to be careful not to financially burden infrastructure companies had been heeded.
The opposition expressed some reservations even as said it had not yet been acquainted with all the details.
The Social Democrats (SD) suspect that the fund will not help finance pensions, rather it will be "another agency for selling assets," according to deputy group leader Matjaž Han.
The Alenka Bratušek Party (SAB) said it was against channelling funds into anything else except pensions.
All out stories about demographics in Slovenia
STA, 21 August 2020 - The government has unveiled the long-awaited bill on long-term care, which envisages a full coverage of related rights from mandatory insurance for long-term care. The contribution rate has been proposed at 1.47%, while the contribution for mandatory health insurance would be somewhat reduced.
According to the ministries in charge of health and social affairs, the bill on long-term care and long-term care insurance allows for the systems of social protection, healthcare and long-term care to be connected.
With the purpose of comprehensive care of an individual, it connects all systems between which the users will transition, depending on their needs, and an individual would be able to use services at home or in an institution, ministry representatives told the press on Friday.
In order to cover the rights defined in the bill, EUR 305.22 million would be transferred from the existing funds, and an additional EUR 335.85 million needs to be collected so that persons with comparable needs get access to comparable rights, which would be fully financed from public resources.
The bill thus enables users to get services they need regardless of their social or economic status, or without putting an additional burden on their families or local communities.
The contribution rate for mandatory insurance for long-term care would stand at 1.47%, while the rate for mandatory health insurance would be reduced by 0.4 of a percentage point, said Klavdija Kobal Straus, the acting head of the long-term care directorate at the Health Ministry.
An individual on the minimum wage would contribute EUR 11 a month to the long-term care fund, and their employers would contribute the same share. An individual on the average wage would contribute EUR 21 a month, while EUR 7 a month would be earmarked by the ZPIZ pension and disability fund for each pensioner.
With additional, voluntary long-term care insurance, individuals would be eligible for services which are not part of the basic package of long-term care rights, for example, accommodation services.
The goal is to provide services where people want and need them, said Kobal Straus, adding that the ministries were building on the existing solutions and filling the gaps in the system.
Labour, Family, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities Minister Janez Cigler Kralj said that the key goal of the new system was that people stayed at home as longer as possible.
If they need to go to an institution, they need to be provided with decent conditions, he said, adding that three types of nursing homes had been envisaged, relative to the needs of the elderly.
Cigler Kralj noted that a majority of nursing homes would remain under the auspices of his ministry, which would preserve the social aspect of residing in elderly homes.
The minister added that the idea was to merge all related services into a comprehensive system which would make it possible for services to be accessible and affordable to the elderly, while also being financially feasible.
According to Kobal Straus, the evaluation of whether an individual is eligible for long-term care rights would be made at the person's home by expert staff.
If a person is eligible, they would be put into one of the five categories, based on which they would be able to access different packages of services.
Health Minister Tomaž Gantar added that the bill answered a lot of questions about the burning issues related to the elderly.
Gantar allows for the possibility of a transitional period, and also believes that a significant amount of funds for the cause could be drawn from the EU funds in coming years.
The bill is now entering public consultation, which is planned to take 45 days, but may be extended depending on the number of comments and suggestions.
STA, 29 February 2020 - The likely new government plans to tackle housing issues among the young and problems stemming from population ageing, according to the social affairs chapter of the coalition agreement. It does not intend to change pension rights though.
The incoming centre-right government vows to set up a housing scheme for young families and build rental flats, the top pledge of the 19-point Youth, Family, Pensions and Social Affairs chapter of the agreement.
It plans to re-introduce a scheme under which families with two or more children enrolled in public kindergarten simultaneously would only pay for the first child, a policy that had been put in place by the first Janez Janša government in 2008 and was later abandoned due to austerity measures.
Family-friendly policies, designed to boost the country's birth rate, include plans to introduce a universal child allowance and incentives promoting "greater enrolment of all children in kindergartens at least a year before starting school".
The document does not mention implementing a Constitutional Court decision mandating equal funding of private and public primary schools, however Janša, the leader of the Democrats (SDS), the party expected to lead the coalition, has said that it goes without saying the parties would also implement any Constitutional Court ruling regardless of whether it is specifically mentioned in the agreement.
Tackling population ageing, the emerging four-party coalition intends to establish a public pension support fund as well as a government demographic office, both headquartered in Maribor, Slovenia's second largest city - initiatives that may be considered as steps towards decentralisation.
The coalition also plans to reform social transfers to prevent abuse of the system and integrate recipients of social benefits who are able to work into the community work placement scheme.
The minimum amount of a full pension is to be gradually brought nearer the poverty threshold, "depending on economic growth and budget capacities". To preserve the existing pension ratios, other pensions would be raised as well.
Addressing the shortage of nursing homes, the coalition pledges to complete the construction of a couple of such facilities as well as build at least five new nursing homes.
It also intends to carry out additional pension increases on top of regular annual pension indexation, assuming GDP growth reaches certain thresholds.
The coalition also promises to provide the chance of spa or climatic treatment for war victims and veterans.
This is the second in a series on the new government’s plans, to be posted in the next few days, with the whole set here
STA, 19 December 2019 - The budget of the ZPIZ pension fund will stand at EUR 5.8 billion in 2020, but the state will have to chip in almost EUR 680 million to balance revenue and expenditure.
Under ZPIZ's financial plan for next year, adopted by the fund's council on Thursday, 84.2% of all revenue or EUR 4.9 billion will go for pensions.
Another EUR 145 million is planned to be spent on the annual holiday allowance for all pensions, up EUR 4.6 million from this year.
Almost 82% of the ZPIZ's revenue will come from contributions for social security and other taxes, with EUR 50 million expected from the state-owned KAD fund.
Pensions are planned to rise twice - by 3.5% in February, and by EUR 6.5 at the end of 2020 as part of an extraordinary rise if economic growth exceeds 2.5%.
Deputy ZPIZ director general David Klarič said as he outlined the plan the EUR 6.5 rise could still change as the upper chamber of parliament had filed a bill to rise pensions not in an absolute sum but as of percentage. In this case, the rise would amount to 1%.
The financial plan will now be sent to the government for approval. The government's representative on the council, Simona Poljanšek, said it was well prepared.
Klarič, however, said the budget would probably have to be overhauled in mid-2020 to adjust it to the latest pension changes which are expected to cost EUR 33 million.
The only council member voting against the financial plan was Frančiška Ćetković, who represents pensioners.
The plan does not envisage pensioners getting back what was taken from them due to the 2012 austerity legislation, which she assessed at 7.2%.
"We won't accept this share not being paid out," she said.
In response, Katja Rihar Bajuk from the Labour, Family, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities Ministry announced the ministry would analyse retirement conditions as those retiring during the crisis were more affected than others.
Council president Dušan Bavec, who represents employers, said more pension revenue could be collected with more effective measures against grey economy.
STA, 5 November 2019 - Slovenia has joined the European Innovation Partnership on Active and Healthy Ageing, thus becoming one of the EU reference sites that promote ageing solutions through bringing together civil societies, governmental organisations, industry and science.
The partnership includes 77 reference sites or ecosystems that aim to improve the health and life of the elderly as well as the entire communities, coming up with and promoting innovative strategies.
"Slovenia's contribution to this partnership will be an improved collaboration of various activities," said Alenka Rožaj Brvar, the head of the Slovenian Innovation Hub, at a press conference on Tuesday.
She pointed at increasing population ageing and related challenges, such as chronic diseases, adding that a more systematic plan for tackling these issues should be implemented.
Marjan Sedmak, the head of the Ljubljana Pensioners' Union and the former head of AGE Platform Europe, a European network of organisations focusing on the needs of the elderly, pointed out that another issue posed by ageing was loneliness, which is being partly tackled by senior activity centres, but there was still room for improvement.
Rožaj Brvar also highlighted the business opportunities of the silver or longevity economy targeting older consumers, including in real estate, health care and prevention, tourism, health food, home care equipment products and assistive devices.
One of Slovenia's possible strategies for tapping this potential is a project called the Academic Village which strives for setting up a community of retired professors and researchers near a new university campus at Brdo pri Kranju in northern Slovenia.
According to the former chancellor of the Ljubljana University and an advocate of the Slovenian Innovation Hub Stane Pejovnik, the community would promote maintaining ties between the young and the elderly as well as the knowledge exchange between them.
Pejovnik also listed the hub's other project ideas, including building two new faculties, a proton therapy centre for tumour treatment and the so-called medicine valley which would come with a price tag of a few hundred million euros, adding that securing funds for such projects is one of the main challenges of Slovenia's innovative initiatives in this field.
Meanwhile, the director of the Provita company Gorazd Hladnik presented an example of good practices in health management - the Health Master app, a Slovenian platform which promotes keeping a personal health record and introduces new ways of patient-doctor exchanges using information and communication technologies.
STA, 29 October 2019 - The National Assembly unanimously endorsed on Tuesday legislative changes making public transportation free of charge for pensioners and persons with disabilities, among others, as of 1 July 2020.
In addition to pensioners and persons possessing the EU disability card, the motion also applies to all registered athletes attending secondary schools and universities and university students with motor disabilities.
Presenting the changes to the road transport act last week, Infrastructure Minister Alenka Bratušek noted that the state had been subsidising tickets for secondary school and university students to provide them with cheaper and safer transport.
"We have now decided to also provide pensioners with such a benefit," she said, adding that the state had already been subsidising inter-city public transport regardless of whether buses and trains were half-empty or totally empty.
"Filling up these seats with pensioners, who will not be buying tickets, would not mean higher costs," the minister explained.
Franc Jurša of the coalition Pensioners' Party (DeSUS) said that it was "one of the better days in the National Assembly", while Igor Zorčič of the coalition Modern Centre Party (SMC) was reserved about all pensioners enjoying the benefit.
Zorčič said at the time that some pensioners had "very good pensions", adding that the eligibility to free public transportation should be expanded to independence war veterans.
It was thus proposed today by the SMC and three other parties in an amendment that unemployed independence war veterans are also eligible for the benefit. The amendment was confirmed.
During last week's debate, Maša Kociper of the coalition Alenka Bratušek Party (SAB) welcomed the fact that the state will enable young athletes to travel to and from practices free of charge.
Anja Bah Žibert of the opposition Democrats (SDS) meanwhile stressed that pensioners had been complaining about the shortage of public transportation lines, in particular in the countryside and in the afternoon hours.
Bratušek said that there were currently around 1,800 public transportation lines, with the ministry being in the process of obtaining data on their occupancy.
New lines could be opened if there is interest. "Our interest is to make [public transportation] as accessible and occupied as possible, so that there is less traffic on the roads," the minister added.
STA, 3 October 2019 - The government adopted on Thursday a set of changes to the pension insurance act equalising the base for pensions for men and women to 63.5% of the salary and regulating the status of pensioners who continue to work.
Under the changes, the pension will no longer depend on whether the pensioner is a man or a woman but only on the pensionable years.
This means that men who have worked for a full 40 years will have their pension set at 63.5% of their wages as of 2025, up from the current 57.25%.
In this way male pensioners will be equal with female retirees, for whom the 63.5% is already in place.
Another change is that a pensioner will get by 1.36% higher pension for every child they have, yet this benefit could not be claimed for more than three children.
"We anticipate higher pensions and thus a higher degree of social security for future pensioners," Labour Ministry State Secretary Tilen Božič said after the government session.
He indicated that the long transition period until 2025 was a means of encouraging workers, especially those aged 59 to 64, to work longer.
Božič explained Slovenia fared worse than other countries in this age group, as many retire rather early, which he said was a major issue of Slovenia's pension system.
"We're focussing on prolonging working, so those who decide to work longer will be better rewarded," the state secretary said.
As for the pensioners who continue to work, they will initially get, alongside the salary, 40% of the pension they are entitled to.
After the first three years of being a working pensioner, their pension will drop to only 20%, as is the case now.
Božič said the government also expected a positive effect from this additional benefit for pensioners who opted for the dual, worker-pensioner status.
Before today's government session, the changes were endorsed by coalition parties, which however indicated some changes could still be made in parliament.
The Pensioners' Party (DeSUS) said the transition period to equalize men and women pensioners in 2025 was too long and should be shortened.
"We've agreed the ministry will make another round of calculations to see the actual financial impacts," deputy group leader Franc Jurša said after the coalition meeting.
He could not say for sure whether DeSUS would file any amendments, noting they would see if some corrections were needed once the legislation was in parliament.
The Ministry of Labour, Family, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities outlined the changes in March, whereupon they were subject to intense talks with employers and trade unions.
The Economic and Social Council, the country's industrial relations forum, gave them its seal of approval last week, at the same time calling for more extensive changes.
All our stories on pensions in Slovenia are here
STA, 2 October 2019 - The Constitutional Court has ruled in a close vote that the retirement and disability pension act is not unconstitutional in the part that prevents sole proprietors from receiving full pension if they decide to continue working after reaching retirement age.
The top court, which received the review request from the Ljubljana Labour and Social Court, said on Wednesday that intergenerational fairness, equality and financial sustainability took precedence over the interests of sole proprietors.
It ruled that the constitutional right to pension does not ensure that individuals receive old-age pension when they do not give up working. The Constitution guarantees the right to a pension to individuals who have paid their contributions if they also meet all other reasonable conditions.
It is reasonable to make full pension conditional on giving up work, considering the benefits pursued, said the court, which decided in a 4 to 5 vote that the act was not in violation of the constitutional right to social security. Two judges also submitted dissenting opinions.
Meanwhile, the court was unanimous in its decision that the act was not in contradiction of the constitutional principle of equality, comparing other groups who may also continue working after reaching retirement age.
It also said that the act followed the principle of protection of legitimate expectations and was not in conflict with the right to free economic incentive.
The court also said that there are a number of reasons why sole proprietors decide to either continue work or retire, adding that it was not the legislature's intention to encourage sole proprietors to stop working and also could not have foreseen such decisions being made.
Sole proprietors, who continue working have to give up up to 80% of their pension. Meanwhile, legislative changes are in the pipelines that would decrease this figure to 50%.
The Chamber of Crafts and Small Business (OZS) responded by stressing the decision had been made in a close vote and that dissenting opinions showed that the existing rules were neither appropriate nor just.
The OZS has been striving for Slovenia to introduce double status of pensioners who want to continue working, a solution that would enable them to receive full pension.
The chamber agrees with judge Etelka Korpič Horvat, who said in her dissenting opinion that double status would be beneficial for everybody. Retired proprietors would be able to continue working and would also contribute to the pension and health insurance purses.
"It is also far from insignificant that double status eliminates the poverty of those with low pensions. Double status strengthens the value of labour without preventing the young generations from working," the OZS quotes Korpič-Horvat's opinion.
The chamber also expressed the belief that the decision and the dissenting opinions would convey to the National Assembly that it could introduce a double system that would be much fairer and more reasonable than the existing provisions.