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Janša: The Government Should Return The Funds For Flood Protection That It Has Allocated For NGOs Instead!

“The Slovenian Democratic Party (Slovenska demokratska stranka – SDS) has always helped when it was a matter of common interests or a reaction to a common misfortune. Whether we were part of the government or the opposition. To the Prime Minister’s words that unity should last as long as possible, I would add that now is not the time for the Government of the Republic of Slovenia to be coming up with laws on online policing,” Janez Janša said in a recent episode of the show Odmevi (Echoes).

In an interview on Radio-Television Slovenia’s Odmevi, hosted by Rosvita Pesek, the leader of the opposition, Janez Janša, touched on the latest developments in the mitigation of the consequences of floods in Slovenia. Janša said: “The protection and rescue system with a combination of charity has responded effectively. Slovenia has a robust system that has proven itself useful on several occasions. But the real challenge for politics lies ahead. Now is the time to take timely intervention measures, and later to set the agenda for reconstruction. The real test for the government is coming up.” When asked whether the technical offices on the ground will be in place in time and whether the experts will be there in time, Janša replied that people and local communities are still doing well on the ground for the time being. Where the damage is greater, he said, answers cannot be found overnight. The dilemma is often whether to rebuild a house at all or to build a new one on the same site.

There is also the question of whether to look for a new location for the damaged houses. Janša also reminded the viewers of the programme that these decisions are not easy to make, and the families that were affected by floods are not sure whether to stay or move elsewhere, which is also why he believes that technical offices should have been set up earlier. He is pleased with the fact that the government will involve the DRI Investment Management, Company for Development of Infrastructure in the project as well, as there are several hundred experts there who can be deployed. He also believes that the approach of quick intervention measures in the continuation of the first law and the reconstruction law with long-term measures is correct. Janša also commented on the European funding that the country has received. He spoke of the 400 million euros in grants from the Solidarity Fund, 50 million euros from the old Cohesion Fund and another 2.7 billion in reimbursements from the Recovery and Resilience Mechanism (“Next generation EU”).

The government is planning to take 300 million euros from equity and 200 million from the budget. For Janša, the key question is whether the government will complete the Recovery and Resilience Plan by the end of the month, meaning before the deadline, which would allow it to use the 2.8 billion euros from the Recovery and Resilience Fund, which he believes can solve the essential resource problem at the moment. The amount of European funding is also, in his view, the key difference between this and the previous disasters, such as the avalanche in Log pod Mangartom, the earthquake in Posočje, and the floods that hit Slovenia in the 1990s. He recalled that at the time of the floods in 2012, we were in the midst of a financial crisis, which had led to the problem of a lack of funds. The good news is that there are more funds than ever at our disposal at the moment. He also highlighted the cohesion funding for the next seven years.

NGOs and studies are getting the money intended for flood prevention projects!

Janša then pointed out that the government had raised the intended 8 percent of the money from our state budget for studies and NGOs to over 20 percent, which he said is something we cannot afford right now, adding that the funds needed to be put back into flood control projects, where they were most needed. “There are some 100 million euros in additional grants available there,” he warned. The state will also allow citizens to use their savings to buy government bonds at more favourable interest rates than those offered by banks soon. At the moment, people are still interested in helping others. However, Janša pointed out that the need is not so dire that we should take most of what we need in this way. Slovenia, he said, has cheap resources at its disposal in Brussels right now. When the European Union offered up repayable funds, they were unattractive, because back then, there were even negative interest rates on the financial markets. But now, that has changed, because it is cheap money that we need to get. Janša believes that the government will manage to do what it needs to do before the end of the month.

This is not the time for divisiveness with online police – we need unity!

He also touched on the Day of Solidarity, pointing out that supposedly, around 100,00 people took part in helping others. That is why it would have been better if everyone else went to work on that day and donated that day’s earnings to the fund. However, some people who were willing to help were looking for places that needed help in vain. There were too many people willing to help then, but not enough now. In Janša’s opinion, it would be better if one region worked one weekend and another region worked another weekend. The willingness to help was exceptional, he said, but there is still a lot of work to be done on the ground. He was also confident that the government would take on board any of the 44 proposals made by the opposition and that, like any government, it would use what was good for everyone and for the government. In his view, the SDS party has always been there to help, whether it was part of the government or the opposition, when it was a matter of common interests, a reaction to a common misfortune, or a disaster. He added that with unity, this was no time for proposals on online policing and other upsetting issues. The government, he said, should act quickly.

Domen Mezeg

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