Prime Minister Janez Janša attended the January meeting of the members of the Manager Association. The event with a rich programme represents the symbolic start of the new economic year, so it is filled with optimism, new ideas, enthusiasm and expectations. During the meeting, Prime Minister Janez Janša spoke with the executive director of the Manager Association about the assistance that the economy has received with the anti-corona legislative measures, the national plan for recovery and resilience, and other important topics for the Slovenian economy.
Janez Janša emphasised that the main priority of the recovery plan are the sectors where we have the greatest needs, so healthcare and long-term care for the elderly, and said that we have seen what was happening in the nursing homes, as there has not been a single new nursing home built in the past 15 years. “A very important emphasis has also been put on a new impetus, which is embedded in other European strategies – the green, digital, innovative initiatives, an all of this is intertwined in a way.”
“This year will be marked by the rules we are not familiar with in Europe yet. Today, the European Commission extended the looser rules for state aid and everything else that was usually and normally generally limited to state interventions, so this year we will have to combine the measures of the country, the incentives for the economy, as well as the first reforms, intended to help our environment last and help the economy,” the Prime Minister pointed out.
“The indicator of our competitiveness, after having a three percent growth between 2000 and 2008, has fallen to 0.6 percent since 2008, due to the crisis and the slow return from the crisis,” said the Prime Minister, who assessed this as far too little. “We had one of the longest periods of crisis or recession in Europe, and the tasks on how to fix it are divided up here,” the Prime Minister said and continued that as far as the government is concerned, this is about creating the right environment. “When it comes to the companies, this is a matter of taking advantage of these opportunities within an environment that must be as favourable as possible, and there are many such opportunities,” the Prime Minister said.
According to him, the big problem regarding higher productivity is on the side of politics or on the side of those who “create the environment.” “If you have talked to Mr. Simič, he specifically told you where the problems are. Were it not for the epidemic, the first package of de-bureaucratisation would probably already have passed through the parliament; however, we are currently occupied with the anti-corona legislative measures, and the Slovenian administration is not at the highest level, in terms of potential and ability, and it is also not capable of doing two things at once when it comes to such complex matters,” the Prime Minister Janša assessed and added that he believes that things will get better in the second half of the year, as certain starting points have already been made. “The most we can do to increase productivity is to improve the environment, remove hundreds of bureaucratic obstacles, and make the functioning of the state cheaper,” the Prime Minister said.
We probably have the highest number of regulations per capita in the world
“The National Assembly has one regular session a month, there are also some extraordinary sessions in between, an interpellation is also added sometimes, and the day only has 24 hours, and as far as the preparation on the government side is concerned, a lot has been done, and we are trying to as much as we can when we have the time, at least when it comes to the things that the government can do; however, the key things must be done through the legislator,” said the Prime Minister and continued that in Slovenia, things are regulated differently than in the other countries. “The important things are written in the rules, the unimportant in the legislation. The hierarchy is completely lost. The matters that are more important can be found in lower acts, and what is less important is often found in the laws, some of it even in the laws that require a two-thirds majority. There is a lot of confusion. We probably have the largest number of regulations per capita in the world,” Janša said.
The Prime Minister also said that during the term of the first government of our independent state, the administrative environment was significantly less bureaucratic. “We have produced an incredible number of regulations during this time, and expanded the administration and bureaucracy accordingly, which we have also seen in crisis situations, such as an epidemic, where we cannot get through the regulations, even though we need to do something, sometimes even overnight,” the Prime Minister Janez Janša said, adding that he did not think what it was possible that in the eight years “since our previous term to produce so many regulations and complicate things to such an extent that we have a headache now.”
“There is simply no other solution here, other than the radical reduction of the bureaucratic burden. If we do not do this, it will continue to stifle the environment and productivity,” Janša added.
He also spoke about Slovenia’s presidency of the Council of the European Union. “The second half of this year, when Slovenia will hold the presidency, will certainly be marked by the challenges of the presidency, with two categories of problems, issues and topics. One is the recovery after the epidemic, and even though it unfortunately often happens that all of us in Europe forget about the roof leaking after it stops raining and we deal with other things instead, until the next time it rains, when we have to deal with the same thing again; we really want to assess how Europe reacted during the epidemic, in the healthcare, financial, security and economic fields, and then draw up a strategic action plan for the event of a recurrence, thus increasing the resilience of the whole of Europe to similar challenges.”
“Slovenia has already proposed this,” the Prime Minister said, adding that the second set of topics is related to delays. “To date, there have been huge delays, summits with other continents have been cancelled, a series of economic measures – the completion of the monetary union – have been stalled because the European Council finds it too difficult to deal with two topics at once, before coordinating something in the 27-nation bloc. This takes a lot of time. Imagine if you had 27 people in your management teams, you would need to set up a meeting just to allow each person to speak for only five minutes. That is also something we will have to deal with. Everyone is postponing these meetings to our time now. However, we want everything that Europe needs, if we forget about the epidemic for a minute, so the significantly greater focus on the issue of productivity, innovation at the European level. If we compare Europe and North America, China, we can quickly see that we are falling behind in many areas, and this is the agenda that we wish to push forward,” the Prime Minister said.
He also reminded everyone that in December of last year, a government delegation went to Israel, “where we studied their model of promoting innovation, especially in the field of artificial intelligence, and there we saw many things that are many steps ahead of what is in the European programmes.”
“When talking about youth and innovation, the people of Israel say that it is not enough to share only the good experiences, it is equally important to share bad experiences, so not only why someone succeeded, but also why they did not succeed, in order to not make the same mistakes. It is difficult to find such an approach in Europe,” Prime Minister Janez Janša said.
When asked to what extent the government is willing to include the economic sector in the recovery plans and development projects, the Prime Minister said they want to involve them in every aspect of it. “The key problem in terms of improving the environment, de-bureaucratisation – the government alone cannot win this battle without your support, because usually when you do something, the administration makes sure that in the end, the reform stops when another commission has to be established, and the mandate expires,” the Prime Minister said, adding that the pressure from the economy should be great, “otherwise, things will be very difficult for us.”
“We are determined, we know what to do and how to do it. We also know what obstacles we will have to face. Thank you for offering to cooperate with us,” the Prime Minister Janez Janša said.
“Let’s hope that the time when we are forced to only see each other through the screens will soon be over, let’s hope we will soon be able to meet at the Brdo Congress Centre, to share our experiences, to present concrete legal solutions,” the Prime Minister emphasised, adding that they would like to have someone else look at the solutions after they reach a stage of passing into legislation itself.
He also mentioned the anecdote about how Maria Theresa had a team of people at her court, who read the law which affected them, and if they understood it, it was passed on to parliament, but if not, the officials had to fix it. “There is a lot of truth in this approach. We have many laws where, when you read them, you do not actually know what they mean, and when you read the explanation, you know even less, and then there are the bylaws, where it gets even more complicated, and this is where we need your help – if there is a willingness to cooperate here, then it is mutual.”
At the end of the talk, the Prime Minister also congratulated the recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award, Stanislav Rožman. “Congratulations to all of the younger recipients as well, Mr. Rožman is a real role model – not only for showing us that it is possible to remain in such an important position for so long, but also for showing us that such an important role can be performed responsibly,” the Prime Minister Janez Janša added.