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The Government Withdrew A Law That Would Have Given Judges And Prosecutors Salary Raises

The National Assembly will not consider the highly controversial bill on the temporary allowances for judges and public prosecutors after all. The government’s proposal had already been criticised from the outset, especially because of its choice of procedure. Namely, the government had chosen the urgent procedure, which is reserved by law for exceptional circumstances, such as natural disasters and the like. The Legislative and Legal Service of the National Assembly then opposed the urgent procedure for adopting the law. The government has not yet provided its reasons for the withdrawal of the law.

At a recent General Assembly of the Slovenian Judges’ Association, Prime Minister Robert Golob arbitrarily and without any legal basis announced an increase in the salaries of judges and public prosecutors, as part of the reform of the salary system, as we would now have a special salary pillar for the judicial system. However, as this reform is not yet ready, he announced that judges and prosecutors would receive a monthly bonus of 600 euros gross until the reform is implemented.

“When the controversial Golob law on a 600-euro bonus (obviously corrupt) for judges was withdrawn, the biggest fool, apart from the government, was the Judicial Council, which “strongly supported” the government’s solutions in advance,” commented MP Branko Grims.

The Prime Minister was then apparently reminded that such promises require laws, as budget money cannot be distributed at the Prime Minister’s discretion. The government then, because of the obvious conundrum in which the Prime Minister had placed it, discussed the law several times at government meetings, and then sent the proposal to the National Assembly – under the urgent procedure.

Criticism immediately followed regarding the choice of procedure. The law is clear. It allows for the adoption of laws under the urgent procedure in the event of natural disasters, in the interests of national security and defence, and where irreversible consequences for the country could arise if the law were not adopted. The government coalition has justified the need for the urgent procedure on the basis of the last condition, even though such a justification for the choice of procedure is inherently nonsensical. Salaries are fixed by law, which can always be changed if there is the political will to do so, so this alone cannot lead to “irreversible consequences”.

The opposition parties Slovenian Democratic Party (Slovenska demokratska stranka – SDS) and New Slovenia party (Nova Slovenija – NSi) then tabled a series of amendments to the bill. The NSi proposed deleting all four articles of the proposal, while the SDS was in favour of all officials receiving a 600 euros gross salary supplement until the systemic changes are made.

An extraordinary meeting of the Committee on Justice has also been convened ahead of tomorrow’s extraordinary session of the National Assembly. At the extraordinary sitting, MPs should have discussed the controversial draft law in question. In the meantime, the session has already been cancelled.

If the law had been adopted, 1,093 judges and prosecutors would have received the allowance. The law would have cost the taxpayers 9.1 million euros, the Slovenian Press Agency reports.

The reactions from the public

One of the first to react to the withdrawal of the law was investigative journalist Bojan Požar, who wrote: “When judges and prosecutors are deprived of their 600 euro allowance because of an unconstitutional excuse for a law prepared by Dominika Švarc Pipan, the Ministry of Justice and the Government of the Republic of Slovenia, which – among other things – is being torn apart by the Legislative and Legal Service of the National Assembly. The moral of the story: the promises of Robert Golob are not to be believed, as the firefighters already realised some time ago.” Miro Haček, a professor at the Faculty of Social Sciences, has also reacted to the news, writing that this is “a good decision.”

Gal Kovač

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