Prime Minister Robert Golob presented his decision to harmonise the pensions earlier, in November instead of February, by saying that it was good that pensioners would get some extra money a bit earlier, to bridge the festive period a bit easier. But the fact is that the government should have made the decision weeks ago on the extraordinary adjustment of pensions, which should have already been in place in October. It is also a fact that last year there were several changes made to the pension legislation that brought more money to many pensioners and recipients of benefits, but now funds are being subordinated to political priorities and diverted from long-term care to migrants. The Long-Term Care Act gives all citizens the hope that they will not be left alone and without healthcare and support in their old age – so in the referendum, you should vote against the abolition of long-term care.
The previous government, which was led by Janez Janša, provided funding for long-term care in the Slovenian budget – namely, 97 million euros for the year 2023, which shows that the coalition and the Ministry of Health are lying, as they claim that no funding has been provided for this. The current government plans to cut 79 million euros from the long-term care budget, warned Jelka Godec, an MP from the Slovenian Democratic Party (Slovenska demokratska stranka – SDS), who also made an extract from the state budget public at the beginning of October. The extract shows that the funds had actually been allocated, but the coalition simply shifted them in line with its political priorities – including for migrants. Former Minister of Cohesion Policy, Zvone Černač, warned that more and more funding is being diverted from long-term care to migrants: “Funding for long-term care was provided for next year’s budget, for just under 100 million euros. The government is cutting this amount to the bare minimum and redistributing a large part of these funds to migrant care. Funding for migrants has been increased from 9 million euros to 61 million euros.”
According to calculations made about a year ago, each migrant costs our country around 1,900 euros gross per month. Which is certainly a lot higher than the pension of many people who have worked hard for more than 40 years and now get a net pension of 460 euros a month. We have also already reported that the government of Robert Golob has decided that pensions will be increased by 4.5 percent in November. They announced that this was a regular adjustment of pensions – while ignoring the warnings of the Pension and Disability Insurance Institute that pensions should be increased by an extraordinary 4.4 percent this year. The regular adjustment of pensions should only be calculated in February 2023, with the adjustment then being applied retroactively from the 1st of January onward. This time, this extraordinary adjustment has been skipped. The first extraordinary pension adjustment took place in January and was mainly aimed at eliminating the backlog of freezes in the crisis years. At the time of the second adjustment in February, the Director-General of the Pension and Disability Insurance Institute, Marijan Papež, told the Delo newspaper that pensioners had been very well looked after during the COVID-19 epidemic and that several changes had been made to pension legislation in 2021 that had brought more money to many pensioners and recipients of benefits.
Last year, there were several changes made to the pension legislation that brought more money to many pensioners and recipients of benefits
In 2021, an amendment to the Pension and Disability Insurance Act law came into force regarding the accumulation of pensionable service up to the 31st of December 2012, which is counted as pensionable service without accumulation for the pensioners according to the previous edition of the law. According to Papež, nearly five thousand pensioners have thus obtained a more favourable pension, some of them even more than 500 euros. And then, another amendment was adopted, which entered into force on the 1st of May last year, increasing the minimum pension, then the guaranteed pension, which was set at 620 euros, and the amount of the pension for the disabled was also redefined at 388 euros. The amendment also shortened the transitional period for the implementation of the increase in the vesting percentage for men. The period has been shortened by two years, so that the transition period will end in 2023, when the vesting percentage for 40 years of pensionable service will be the same for both sexes – 63.5 years. However, the vesting percentages for other periods of attainment have also been increased proportionately. For 15 years of insurance, the rate will thus be 29.5 for both sexes in 2023. This year, the vesting percentage for men is 61.5 for 40 years and 28.5 for 15 years.
After 30 years of waiting, a new list of physical impairments was adopted in October
Another amendment was also adopted recently, reintroducing disability benefits for physical impairments into the pension and invalidity system, even if the cause of the impairment is an injury outside of work or an illness. After 30 years of waiting, a new list of physical impairments was also adopted in October. Regarding the invalidity allowance for physical impairments, it is important that the next legislative procedures also include a provision for the adjustment of this benefit, which has not been adjusted since 2013, except in 2019. According to Papež, the Institute and its Council have repeatedly warned about this. A provision of the Pension and Disability Insurance Act has also entered into force, which has brought about an important change, namely, that even after the 1st of January 2013, for those who were voluntarily enrolled in compulsory insurance on the 31st of December 2012, this insurance is counted as pensionable service without any top-up until the first termination. According to the Director-General of the Pension and Disability Insurance Institute, the institute performed very well last year, with inflows of contributions even significantly above the planned level, which meant that the state budget needed around 290 million less than planned to balance operations.
This has been due to the good economic situation and the measures taken to mitigate the impact of coronavirus since the beginning of the epidemic. Their effectiveness has been reflected in the increase in the number of people in employment and the reduction in the number of unemployed people. In 2021, the pension fund’s income and expenditure amounted to 6.2 billion euros and was 5.2 pecent higher in nominal terms than in the previous year, Papež further explained on the web portal Vzajemnost.si. “I am very happy that the Long-Term Care Act has finally come about, where changes will be needed in the future, but it is important that this area has finally started to be regulated in a systemic way,” he said in February this year.
According to Golob, there was some miscommunication
As already mentioned, at the end of October, Prime Minister Robert Golob and the Minister of Labour, Family, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities, Luka Mesec, announced that the early regular adjustment of pensions would amount to 4.5 percent. This figure was set by the government because the salaries of public sector employees are being raised by this percentage with the October salary, which will be paid in November, the N1 media outlet reported, explaining that the government’s plans contradict the current legislation. Pensioners’ organisations were also not too happy about the idea of early adjustment of pensions, as it seemed that the government wanted to harmonise the pensions before the end of this year, but not in February next year, which is in contradiction with the current legislation. “Everything in the law is as it should be, so I don’t know what the government is up to,” said the President of the Slovenian Federation of Pensioners’ Associations, Janez Sušnik, while the President of the pensioners’ trade union, Francka Ćetković, also share his surprise. Then, the newspaper Delo reported that the government had adopted a law that would allow for the pensions to be adjusted early – by 4.5 percent in November instead of February. According to Golob, the 4.5 percent extraordinary adjustment of pensions will start in November and last throughout November and December. In January, it will be followed by the regular adjustment of pensions under the existing law on pension and disability insurance. The same law also includes a freeze on the increase in the cost of care allowances of up to 4.5 percent. Following this clarification, Sušnik commented that the government’s measures were acceptable to them. However, after a discussion on the topic, the council of the Pension and Disability Insurance Institute adopted a decision on the proposal of the Federation of Pensioners’ Associations for an extraordinary adjustment of pensions, calling on the Government of the Republic of Slovenia to implement this year’s extraordinary adjustment of pensions by percentage within the available public funds, taking into account the missing percentage of the adjustment for those retired up to and in the year 2011.
At the referendum, vote against the abolition of long-term care!
When the Janša government adopted the Long-Term Care Act, it did so after years of (deliberately?) failed attempts by left-wing governments. The law allegedly had 117 drafts or revisions before it was finally tabled in parliament. “The Long-Term Care Act brings hope to all citizens that they will not be left alone and without healthcare and assistance in their old age. It is a systemic law to ensure that every elderly person will spend his or her last years without unnecessary hardships and deprivation,” the SDS party wrote on the occasion of the adoption of the law, which would place Slovenia among the modern countries where this has been regulated for many years now. So, are we going to allow long-term care to be abolished and people to lose up to 1,870 euros a month, depending on the level of care they need? Let’s vote against the abolition in the referendum and thereby ensure that our loved ones will be able to stay in their own homes with appropriate care, that the project of e-care continues, and that Slovenia receives 1.5 billion euros in European grants.