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Prime Minister Janša at Tuesday’s Session of the National Assembly: A Working Group, Consisting of State Secretaries, Has Already Prepared a Set of Measures to Tackle Higher Energy Prices

On Tuesday, Prime Minister Janez Janša attended a session of the National Assembly, where he answered questions from members of parliament, who were discussing the field of energy prices.
Below, you can find a report on the session, the MPs’ questions, and Prime Minister’s answers.

On Monday, Prime Minister Janez Janša attended a session of the National Assembly, where he answered questions from members of parliament. The session continued on Tuesday, when the MPs highlighted the energy crisis and called on the government to find solutions. Prime Minister Janez Janša pointed out that the whole world is currently facing an energy crisis, adding that the government cannot regulate all energy prices.

9:11 Janša: The government has regulated the margins for hearing oil and gas. The biggest problem we are currently facing is the rising of oil and natural gas prices. This problem manifests itself differently in different EU Member States, and action needs to be taken according to each specific situation. Merely listing what other countries are doing achieves nothing in terms of us facing the situation in our country.

9:13 Janša: High growth of energy prices can be expected next year, with the economy feeling the consequences of this the most severely, and if or when that happens, the government will help and take measures due to higher prices.

9:14 Janša: “An expert working group, consisting of State Secretaries, has already prepared a set of measures to tackle higher energy prices. The government will adopt them according to the situation, as it develops.”

9:16 NSi MP Mihael Prevc highlighted the issue of vulnerable groups, especially households with low incomes, which are at risk of poverty. NSi wants to solve this problem by creating an energy voucher, which would be distributed among those who are recipients of low pensions, social assistance and childcare allowance. Due to price regulation, energy supply disruptions could also happen.

9:25 SAB MP Andrej Rajh pointed out that the deregulation of prices of petroleum products has shown that market prices need to be controlled. The Price Control Act allows for the government to re-regulate prices when certain conditions are met. “When, if not now, will these conditions be met?” Rajh wondered. Namely, we are entering an era of rising energy prices.

9:35 DeSUS MP Ivan Hršak: Pensioners represent a large proportion of vulnerable groups. Energy issues need to be addressed on the level of the European Union. IN the first phase, the government has decided to regulate the prices of heating oil, and in the future, this issue could be solved with the help of energy vouchers. It should be pointed out that with rising energy prices, citizens are using cheaper heating sources. Further action by the Minister will be taken depending on the behaviour of further market prices.

9:40 Representative of the independent MPs, Janja Sluga, pointed out that oil and petrol prices have increased by as much as a quarter, compared to the same time period last year. She accused the Minister of the Economy, Zdravko Počivalšek, of deregulating prices. “The energy company Petrol will increase the price of electricity by 30 percent, and by 12 percent for natural gas,” Sluga warned. She believes that, in addition to the health crisis, the energy crisis is another serious threat, as the economy will suffer due to higher energy prices. “We need to do everything in our power to ensure we can provide our own energy resources.” The independent MPs also want to introduce the aforementioned energy vouchers. The vouchers would also support the provision of European funding for the green transition and tackling of the energy crisis.

9:42 SNS MP Dušan Šiško: Due to the higher prices of energy, prices of other goods have also risen.

9:50 SDS MP Bojan Podkrajšek: The SDS party is aware of the increase in energy prices. Podkrajšek pointed out that he believes that the energy crisis was formed on the basis of decisions of the previous government, the consequences of which are not becoming apparent in the current government’s term. “This winter will be one of the worst ones in the field of energy, which is something we can tackle together, with solidarity,” he pointed out.

10:07 LMŠ MP Edvard Paulič: “In the LMŠ party, we believe that today’s debate is extremely important and want to ask the government to prepare and present a set of measures which could help solve the energy poverty of citizens.”

10:12 SD MP Marko Koprivc: Energy prices are skyrocketing. If the government does not take immediate action, energy poverty will follow.

10:16 Janša: At the EU level, we have established the Just Transition Fund instrument that will help us address these problems; funds are also available for this, and Slovenia will definitely use them. In 2016, when the SD party was in power, it was decided that fuel prices on highways can be set by the owners of gas stations themselves. We re-regulated the margins for heating oil. Margins have not risen and remain low; however, fuel prices have risen – but not because of deregulation, but because of market conditions.

10:18 Janša: The reasons for the rise in energy prices consist of three factors. The first is natural, the second is changes in the field of renewable energy sources, as it is not yet known which energy sources will be classified as green or carbon energy sources. And the third reason is the fact that energy consumption has increased since the health crisis began, and thus, energy prices have risen, and no improvements in this area can be predicted for now.

10:21 Coordination and clashes are currently taking place at the European level about how to deal with further taxation of non-electric cars and buildings in terms of energy consumption. If the taxation of these two is not delayed, it will further affect the rising of prices. This is a fact that needs to be considered when deciding on two contradictory directions.

10:35 Janša: When we will be deciding on the introduction of vouchers, it is first necessary to define how many and to whom they will be provided. I hope that these frameworks will be adopted as part of the state budget debate.

10:37 Janša: You cannot turn off electricity here if that endangers human health.

10:39 Last year we witnessed negative oil prices, where producers actually paid those who bought oil stocks, but today, the situation is completely reversed. The current solution is to not freeze the margins because that is a small thing to do. We will do this when we find that this regulator is being exploited. If the margins are reduced, what may happen to us is that the sellers will no longer provide the service because it will simply not pay off for them. We could cut taxes, but that would mean that there will be a hole in the budget, and there will not be enough money for the things the most vulnerable members of our society need. Environmental taxes cover as much as half of the price of fuels.

10:42 Janša: You will have to decide whether you are all Robert Golob (President of the Management Board of an energy company Gen-i) or the people who are socially endangered due to high energy prices. You cannot be both at the same time.

10:55 Levica party MP Miha Kordiš: Currently, statistically, the EU is actually responsible for eight percent of all emissions that drive climate change, but at the expense of relocating the economy to third world countries. When we dig a bit deeper, we find that this percentage is even higher at the expense of goods that were produced in third world countries for Europe. It is not the poor who are driving the climate collapse, but the capitalists – the rich are the ones who create the most emissions, by far. Deregulation of prices has already happened under the Miro Cerar government. The market situation of energy products, both at the level of production and distribution, is at the heart of the problem. That market situation is the problem itself. Subsidy packages are not enough; it is not enough for the state to simply issue energy vouchers with state money. This will not fix the core problem.

11:11 SDS MP Franc Rosec: as an EU Member State, we are committed to reducing the use of coal, and in the coming years, we will have to determine how we will compensate for the lack of energy and how we will ensure that this does not become an additional burden on households and the economy. The competitiveness of the economy is a very important factor in the price of electricity. If we look at the EU, for example, it is dependent on imports of electricity in 60 percent of all its energy needs. At the same time, electricity consumption in the EU has recently increased by five percent.

11:35 SMC MP Mojca Žnidarič: In addition to short-term measures, we also need to adopt long-term ones, which will regulate the situation on the market. Oil prices are changing similarly in our neighbouring countries. Fuel prices are the way they are because of the situation in the world markets. Measures need to be taken with some proper amount of influence. I am confident that the government will take the right steps that will help.

11:48 SD MP Bojana Muršič: Measures must be taken immediately.

11:50 SDS MP Boris Doblekar: If you have been paying attention to the Prime Minister’s answers, then you have already realised that the government is prepared to face this issue, which was pointed out today. Self-sufficiency in energy would reduce energy poverty.

12:35 SDS MP Boris Doblekar: Why do the Social Democrats only ever talk about energy poverty when you are in opposition? What have you done in the last 20 years against energy poverty? We are talking about all aspects of it, not just electricity.

12:38 Levica party MP Boštjan Koražija: Given the epidemic and the rising prices, I am afraid that prices of natural gas will continue to rise further. The vouchers will support these large suppliers, who will receive even more money on this account. In reality, however, the people who will use the vouchers will not be any better off because of higher energy prices.

12:40 SD MP Marko Koprivc: It is fortunate that you have regulated the prices of heating oil again, and the difference in price will definitely show. However, we expect many more measures to be taken.

12:50 SDS MP Marko Pogačnik: Slovenia is not the only country facing an increase in energy prices – the EU, Europe, and the entire world are currently tackling the same problem. The price of oil has risen on the world market, and this is the reason for the rise in energy prices. The opposition, however, is trying to present the whole situation as if it is the government’s fault. The government will do everything in its power to protect the most vulnerable groups of people who will be the most affected by price increases. To this end, it presented the measure of energy vouchers.

Sara Kovač

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