After yesterday’s meeting between the government and the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Slovenia, one thing is clear. Robert Golob does not want to rein in the electricity speculators, which is what the Chamber of Commerce and Industry is proposing. Instead, he will accept a package of aid for the economy, which amounts to (according to forecasts) about a billion euros. Obviously, a good share of the financial aid will end up in the pockets of energy traders. This includes Golob’s former colleagues at the Gen-I energy company, who were reportedly forced to raise energy prices due to the changed geopolitical situation, even though Slovenians are almost completely self-sufficient when it comes to electricity.
The disappointment over the non-introduction of an upper limit on energy prices is widespread. “If there is no limit, the damage to the Slovenian economy could be in the range of several billion euros, from five to ten, in the next year,” said Tibor Šimonka, the President of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry, while Valter Leban from the company Kolektor said: “In order to stop the speculators, energy prices must be regulated and a sustainable situation must be ensured.”
Marko Drobnič from the company Talum also said that electricity price regulation is necessary, pointing out that the production of materials in the EU has fallen due to high energy prices, while it has increased in parts of the world that are not facing the price hike (or where the prices are lower). Aluminium production has fallen by 20 percent of capacity, steel by 30 to 40 percent, and paper by 10 to 15 percent, he said. Robert Ljoljo from the pharmaceutical company Lek also said that electricity price regulation is necessary.
The government and the Chamber of Commerce and Industry reached an agreement in principle on the establishment of an ad hoc working group to form an agreement on the possible introduction of a “modified” price limit, “which would level the playing field for small, medium-sized and large companies,” the Slovenian Press Agency reports. The Chamber of Commerce and Industry also presented the government with a number of other measures, including a call for energy prices to be capped at the European level, as well as specific measures to preserve jobs in the event of temporary layoffs, which the government is expected to adopt in the coming month.
Will aid to the economy further erode the purchasing power of the poorest?
The promised billion euros in aid to the economy will have another “unforeseen” consequence. While the extra billion euros in circulation will help the economy to weather the crisis, it will also reduce purchasing power. It could well be that the end result of the financial intervention would be an even poorer population. Basic economics teaches us that inflation occurs when there is too much money in circulation and that price rises hit those who have the least.
Robert Golob – Prime Minister and first lobbyist
The President of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Slovenia made his dissatisfaction clear at a press conference after the meeting with the government. “I would be a bit disingenuous if I said that the economic sector is satisfied after meeting with the government,” he said. But what is even more telling than his general expression of dissatisfaction is his statement that this is all a fight of the speculator lobby. This is more than obviously a jab at Robert Golob, former President of the Management Board of the Gen-I energy company, the country’s number one energy speculator. Let us remind you that this is a company which has an exclusive contract with the Krško Power Plant to buy electricity from it (in addition to Croatia), which it then sells to end consumers. The production price at the nuclear power plant has barely changed, but prices for consumers are rising.