Ten months have passed already since the appointment of the government led by Robert Golob, which has so far done nothing. And not only that. It is destroying everything that the previous government, the Janša government, put in place. They are announcing reforms in the areas of healthcare, taxes, education, the wage system, and at the same time, the deadlines for these reforms are constantly being pushed back – by now, they are already being pushed back to the time after the next elections.
They are most committed to raising the wages of individual professional groups in the public sector, where they are buying social peace (electoral votes), while at the same time causing numerous anomalies and dissatisfaction among those professional groups that are the minority in the public sector.
“A healthcare reform”
The Golob government has proven time and again that it is not up to the task for which it was elected. Let us just remind you of the area of healthcare, where 30 days to a specialist and the like were pompously announced before the elections. Now, however, it appears that the government is not even aware of the things that already exist. One such example is the Zvem call centre. Until recently, Robert Golob was publicly proclaiming that “something like this has never been done in Slovenia before.” Among other key projects which are part of the healthcare reform, he announced the creation of a call centre to help users find clinics and to help them use the portal. Jelka Godec, leader of the Slovenian Democratic Party (Slovenska demokratska stranka – SDS) parliamentary group, responded by noting that the call centre had already been established several years ago. She also sent them a link to its website via social media with a note that Golob and the Minister of Health, Danijel Bešič Loredan, could call there if they needed help. “They really believe that everything started on the 24th of April 2022,” she added. That was the date of the elections to the National Assembly.
Despite making promising pre-election promises and announcements of action months after he took the oath of office, Health Minister Danijel Bešič Loredan has still not delivered on key measures, and is “feeding” patients who desperately expect him to act with new empty promises. And after all this time, after all the promises made about concrete solutions, we have a ‘solution’ that already exists – a call centre.
“The tax reform”
The government coalition (the Freedom Movement – Gibanje svoboda, the Social Democrats – SD, and the Left – Levica) announced a more comprehensive tax reform as early as last summer, when, shortly after taking office, it only prepared a repeal of part of the income tax changes introduced under the previous government. Then, at the end of January, Golob announced the tax reform for mid-March. Now, after a month and a half, the coalition is meeting again at Brdo pri Kranju. They are expected to try to find a consensus on the search for new tax sources. The latter means that they are aiming primarily at new taxation of citizens and the economy. On Tuesday at Brdo pri Kranju, they are only expected to take note of the analysis of the situation, but “they also want to set a timetable”, according to well-informed reports.
“The school reform”
They also announced a school reform, but they have not revealed the details yet, which means they do not have them. However, at a hearing at the competent committee of the National Assembly, the new Minister of Education, Darjo Felda, before taking up his ministerial post earlier this year, highlighted the reform of the kindergarten curriculum, especially in the area of digitalisation, as one of his priorities. He also spoke about the changes needed in primary schools. He announced the adoption of a White Paper on Education by the end of this year. As already said, nothing has come of it yet.
Golob’s “investment cycle”
At the Slovenian Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s awards ceremony for businessmen and entrepreneurs, Robert Golob excitedly announced “the biggest investment cycle ever”. The investments will be worth more than €100 million, including in green breakthroughs and for the launch of the space industry, he said. He was ridiculed for what he said, as a €100 million cycle is a drop in the ocean for the country. A day later, in Lendava, Lek, the pharmaceutical company under the umbrella of the Swiss Sandoz, announced a €400 million investment in a high-tech centre for the production of biosimilar drugs, creating around 300 new jobs. The conditions for the investment in Lendava were already created during the term of the government of Janez Janša. During the previous government, €6.67 billion was allocated for the development of municipalities, of which €1.22 billion came from European funds, and the conditions were secured for 2,416 projects. With his €100 million, Golob has really made a fool of himself and shown how he underestimates or makes fun of Slovenian citizens.
Pigeon announced (allegedly) the biggest investment cycle ever, worth €100 million. Meanwhile, the government of Janez Janša provided €6.67 billion for the development of municipalities.
Shameful absorption of EU funds
During the term of the Janez Janša government, Slovenia was among the most successful countries in terms of absorbing European Union funds, which bring development. At the end of February this year, however, MEP Romana Tomc sent a letter to the current Minister of Finance, Klemen Boštjančič, drawing attention to a recent event in the European Parliament. MEPs recently discussed the issue of the drawing of funds from the Recovery and Resilience Plan fund. Slovenia was singled out as one of the cases where the implementation is far behind schedule. This is why there is a great fear in the European institutions that the plan will not be fully implemented, which would mean a huge loss of European funds for our country.
According to the MEP, Slovenia is expected to receive around €231 million in pre-financing in September 2021. However, according to the plan, the first and second payment requests should have been sent together in the second quarter of 2022, but this did not happen. The third request was to be sent in the fourth quarter of 2022, which also did not happen. The first application was only submitted in October 2022, much later than foreseen, while the second and third applications have not even been submitted yet. The reasons for these delays are believed to be the non-achievement of targets or milestones. MEP Tomc asked Minister Boštjančič to explain the reasons for the delays for the purposes of further discussions and explanations in the European Parliament. Minister Boštjančič was also asked about this by a Demokracija magazine journalist at one of the press conferences. The visibly annoyed minister, as is usual for everyone in this government, initially blamed the previous government led by Janez Janša for the delay. But then he finally admitted that the government was changing its plans while at the same time assuring that “the funds should be fully drawn on time” by 2026, when he will probably no longer be in the ministerial chair.
Predictions for 2023: “In just one year, we have gone from record optimism to record pessimism.”
Directors of Slovenian companies are distinctly pessimistic about the future, according to the latest PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) survey presented last week. Their forecasts for this year are even among the most pessimistic ever. As many as 84 Slovenian directors expect the Slovenian economy to contract.
In 2023, Slovenian directors feel most financially exposed to inflation, economic uncertainty and geopolitical risk. The forecasts for 2023 are among the most pessimistic in the history of the survey and represent a complete turnaround from last year.
The Managers’ Association of Slovenia mentioned the pressure on the economy and the fact that the announcements of the various reforms are accompanied by mixed signals. They pointed out that businesses do not know what lies ahead, and this is causing a certain amount of pessimism.
This year’s global survey, the 26th in a row, involved 4,410 directors and chairmen from 105 countries, including 50 from Slovenia. It was conducted in October and November last year. Foreign directors are much less pessimistic than Slovenian ones, although they have their concerns, too.
Namely, 49 percent of Slovenian directors who took part in the survey believe that their companies will not survive if they do not transform their business processes today, compared to 40 percent globally. In addition, 73 percent of directors globally and 78 percent of Slovenian directors expect a downturn in economic growth this year. 84 percent of Slovenian directors expect the Slovenian economy to contract.
Globally, directors pointed to changing consumer habits as the biggest threat affecting company revenues over the next ten years, while Slovenian directors were most concerned about labour shortages or a lack of relevant job skills. Slovenian directors are further concerned about consumer habits, disruption in supply chains, the transition to new energy sources, disruption in technologies and changes in legislation.
They are spending money with no impact
Jelka Godec, leader of the SDS group of MPs, said: “The first move of the Golob coalition was the abolition of the office for the central price register of medical devices and the reference prices for healthcare purchases, which were introduced by the government of Janez Janša. A new office for control, quality and investment in healthcare was created. They spent €62,355 for nothing – or rather, €36,685 on consultancy for the reorganisation of the work and the start-up of the office, €6,450 each on content and legal assistance in the office and on investment and financial content in the office, and €4,031 on administrative matters and reports in the office. The newly created office is headed by Aleš Šabeder, and in a month of existing, they have done nothing but spend money.”
Golob’s solution for healthcare is a customer service call centre, which has actually existed for several years.
The justice system overhaul strategy was announced as “scheduled” for the end of January, then the end of February, and it has now been postponed indefinitely.