In the third quarter of last year, Slovenia was among the countries in the European Union and the euro area that recovered the most, with the growth of as much as 12.4 percent. It is also among the countries where unemployment has risen the least during this health crisis, and the decline in our gross domestic product (GDP) has been among the lowest in the EU.
Because of this, Slovenia is also gaining a great reputation in the international financial markets, and the measures taken by the Janez Janša government to mitigate the consequences of the epidemic and help the economy are exceptional. Therefore, the expectations for the second half of 2021 are also great. All indications point to Slovenia staying among the most successful EU countries when it comes to overcoming the crisis. Were it not for the harassment of the opposition, which is working as hard as it possibly can to get back to power, it could be even better, and above all, much easier for everyone.
So far, eight government legislative aid packages have been adopted
Since the 13th of March 2020, when the current government, led by Janez Janša, took over the leading of the country, and the epidemic of the novel coronavirus was declared in Slovenia, the government has already adopted eight anti-corona legislative packages, which include the measures that will mitigate the consequences of the epidemic.
With the measures, the government has helped the economy and the citizens, and with the eighth package, it extended the validity of the said help further into 2021. As part of the packages, solidarity measures to help those with the lowest income were also adopted. Thus, the pensioners with the lowest pensions (up to 714 euros per month) have already received the solidarity allowance twice. It is also worth mentioning that during this time, the pensions have increased twice for all the pensioners, first in December, and then once again in January, so in a year, the pensions grew by 8.9 percent.
Students, high school students, farmers, large families, children and other vulnerable groups have also received financial help from the state. At the same time, the government also helped the economy – so far, it has allocated more than 2.3 billion euros for it. The goal is to preserve as many jobs as possible. The most important new way of helping the economy from the last, eighth anti-corona legislative package – the so-called PKP 8 (PKP – Protikorona paket), is the state budget taking over the burden of part of the difference in the increase in the minimum wage, which currently amounts to 1,024.25 euros gross. In addition to all of the aid for the citizens that has already been introduced, this will be an additional major contribution.
After the confirmation of the eighth legislative package, Matej Lahovnik, Ph.D., coordinator of the expert advisory group, told the media that the state’s aid for the population and the economy was big. “This is also reflected in the fact that Slovenia is among those countries in the European Union and the euro area whose unemployment has increased the least during the current crisis, and the gross domestic product (GDP) has fallen the least.”
Slovenia consolidated its position in the group of the most advanced countries
The international credit rating agencies have confirmed Slovenia’s very favourable credit ratings. At the end of January, the Ministry of Finance announced that Slovenia has issued long-term, 60-year euro bonds and thus consolidated its position in the group of more advanced euro area countries, by significantly extending the reference market yield curve. Slovenia thus significantly reduced the risk of having to refinance the state budget debt. The yield on issued 60-year euro bonds in the amount of 0.5 billion euros Is 0.70 percent, and the coupon interest rate is 0.6875 percent. These interest rates are extremely low, comparable to the rates of countries such as France and Belgium.
Slovenia is also the first Eastern European country that managed to do something like this. All of this is important, as it shows that the investors trust the decisions and measures of the Slovenian government, which were adopted to mitigate the consequences of the COVID-19 epidemic for the citizens and the economy.
We will return less than we borrowed
We should also point out that this year, for the first time ever, Slovenia issued long-term bonds in the amount of 1.75 billion euros, with a negative yield to the maturity, of 0.096 percent, and a coupon interest rate of 0 percent. This means that in the end, Slovenia will have to repay less than it borrowed, as the interest rates are negative. Matej Lahovnik states that it is very important that the state maintains a good credit rating. In his opinion, the fact that Slovenia issued a 60-year bond maturing in 2081, means that our country has maintained its reputation in the international financial markets due to the sensible measures which were adopted during the COVID-19 pandemic. “All this allows us to borrow cheaply, practically at a negative interest rate,” Lahovnik pointed out.
The government will focus on targeted projects upon reopening
In addition, the government is also staying focused on the time after the reopening that will follow the epidemic. It has drawn up a recovery and resilience plan to distribute the funds that the government team, led by the Prime Minister, managed to negotiate in Brussels last summer. The funds amount to around 10.2 billion euros, which we will receive before 2027, with the focus on higher spending in the first few years.
In addition, individual ministries are preparing other assistance measures. For example, the Ministry of the Economy is already working on a tender worth 36 million euros that will be made public in March, the intention of which is to help the tourism companies, namely, small and medium-sized enterprises, recover. The SID Bank will offer 200 million euros as part of the credit schemes for the catering and tourism companies, with a 35 percent state guarantee.
Similarly, the other ministries will also adopt target plans for the most vulnerable activities, in order to boost the recovery in the second half of the year. Every epidemic has to end some time, and every recovery has to begin somewhere. The opposition, so the LMŠ, SD, Levica and SAB parties are also very aware of this. They gave up on their coalition just before the epidemic started, and now that it is coming to an end, they want to come to power again. They are very tempted by the financial resources from Brussels. They want to be the ones who decide on how the money is spent; however, they do not want to actually work for it!
The opposition leftists cannot stop bothering the government
The third Janša government, which began its term during the epidemic, did not even have one day of peace. The pogrom against it began in an orchestrated manner, even before it was appointed. Let us remind you of the letter, written by 75 self-proclaimed intellectuals, which was signed by Rudi Rizman, Ljubo Bavcon, Anton Bebler, Spomenka Hribar, Vlado Miheljak, Niko Toš, Boris Vezjak, and others. Even before the epidemic was officially declared, they warned of the consequences of the Janša government in their letter. The first protest rally was also convened at that time, despite the fact that the government had not even been named yet. However, when the government was sworn in on the 13th of March, it was greeted by practically empty warehouses of the much-needed protective equipment.
First it was Tonin and Počivalšek
The government had to act quickly; however, in the background, the deep state already had a scenario of an affair prepared, the flag bearer of which was Ivan Gale. In less than a month, the national television prepared an episode of the show Tarča (target) on the subject. The mainstream media thus began to search for mistakes of the ministers, in connection with the procurement of the much-needed protective equipment. Their first target was Minister of Defence Matej Tonin, who was allegedly involved in nepotism (but it later turned out that none of the allegations were actually true), and after that, they decided to attack the Minister of the Economy, Zdravko Počivalšek, as they tried to portray the procurement as allegedly controversial. Later, the pogrom against Zdravko Počivalšek moved to the National Assembly, as the parties of the left-wing opposition filed an interpellation against him, but he successfully passed it.
Next up was Hojs
Minister Aleš Hojs was criminally charged by anonymous people of the deep state, for reviewing the proceedings at the National Bureau of Investigation, which was then also followed by an interpellation against him due to his (non)resignation. The protests in front of the National Assembly were increasingly becoming a performance of the rapper Zlatko Čordić, who even hit the camera and then snatched it from the hands of the Nova24TV cameraman at one of the protests. The protests continued to escalate from week to week and were starting to turn into violence. The ringleader of the protesters, Anis Ličina, explained on the show Tednik, how the journalists should avoid getting attacked: “I suggest that if you are a journalist, you should just have a vest, or something similar, with RTV written on it, and you can avoid any confrontation.”
Pogrom against Pivec
After the interpellation against Hojs fell, the brutal media attack on the then-Minister of Agriculture and president of the DeSUS party, Aleksandra Pivec began. Following the vote of no confidence of the DeSUS party due to the 400-euro affair, it ended with her resigning from the position of party president, and later also from the position of Minister of Agriculture. Jože Podgoršek took over the position of Minister of Agriculture, and Karl Erjavec was re-elected as the president of the DeSUS party. The deep state already had him in mind for the position of Prime Minister, after the Janša government would fall. But as we can see, the plan did not really work out all that well for them.
They went against the preventive measures
The next thing on the ridiculous agenda of the opposition leftists was to go after the Minister of Education, Simona Kustec, for not wearing a mask. This whole thing was mainly ridiculous because the protesters were also not wearing masks, and at a time when any gathering of people was banned because of the measures, and the spreading of the novel coronavirus. Let us also remind you of how the Social Democrats supported the call of the principals for schools without masks, and as expected, the head of SVIZ – the Trade Union of Education, Science and Culture of Slovenia (Sindikat vzgoje, izobraževanja in znanosti), Branimir Štrukelj, also joined them.
After all of the unsuccessful manoeuvres, the deep state sent the so-called Constitutional Arch Coalition (Koalicija ustavnega loka – referred to as KUL) to the political floor in October last year, which constitutes of the opposition parties LMŠ, SD, Levica and SAB. The KUL coalition does not have enough votes for the constructive vote of no confidence, as they were also counting on some of the coalition’s deputies. As a result, brutal pressuring of the coalition’s deputies began, which has continued until today. KUL’s first candidate for the position of Prime Minister was Jože P. Damijan, but he was soon “fired,” and Karl Erjavec, who took over DeSUS again and pulled the party out of the coalition, was sent to gather enough votes from the MPs, with the hopes of the 46th vote that would enable him to take over the power. The deep state did not succeed in its manoeuvre, as, after some of the opposition MPs got infected with COVID-19, the vote of no confidence, which was filed in the National Assembly on the 15th of January, had to be postponed. To make the whole situation even more absurd, the DeSUS MPs rebelled against their president and refused to leave the coalition. Due to the chaotic situation, we are now facing a series of ministerial interpellations, as the opposition has nothing else prepared for now. However, the Minister of Labour, Family, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities, Janez Cigler Kralj, Minister of Education, Science and Sports, Simona Kustec, and Minister of Culture, Vasko Simoniti, are already looking forward to the opportunity to defend themselves. And on Monday, it was finally time for the “long-awaited” vote of no confidence against the current government, which was only signed by ten deputies from the LMŠ, SD, Levica, SAB and DeSUS parties.
Vida Kocjan, Petra Janša