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Slovenia Business Week no. 15/2005: PM Takes Stock of the Legacy of Former Government

Prime Minister Janez Jansa has highlighted Slovenia's international position as a full-fledged member of EU and NATO among the assets taken over from the previous government

Prime Minister Janez Jansa has highlighted Slovenia's international position as a full-fledged member of EU and NATO among the assets taken over from the previous government. On the downside, Jansa quoted the "rather non-transparent budget" with some SIT 70bn (EUR 292m) worth of liabilities from the past which have no cover in the 2005 budget.

The prime minister took stock of the general situation assumed from the previous government at a press conference on Wednesday, 6 April after individual ministers and heads of government offices had presented the state of affairs at their respective departments.  

Speaking about what he found positive in the legacy of the former government, Jansa highlighted the fact that a large part of the national legislation had been aligned with EU law. Moreover, most of the Maastricht requirements for the introduction of the euro have been met.

On the other hand, Jansa voiced dissatisfaction over the government's strong influence in the economy, unfinished privatisation and excessive regulation that discourages entrepreneurship. He was also critical of the tax system, which he deems too complicated and not business-friendly.

According to Jansa, the previous government did not leave behind a complete balance sheet of the state's financial assets, or a transparent balance sheet of property owned by the state.

Moreover, there was no information system to monitor social transfers, or computer-aided personnel planning. The PM said his government would now set up the missing records and systems.

He said that the government would debate the spring forecast at its regular session. This would serve as a basis to draw up an amended budget bill, which however can only cover half of the SIT 70bn (EUR 291m) liabilities mentioned, Jansa said, noting that savings measures would be necessary.

According to him, "there will be less funds for development as we believed there would be at the start of our term in office".

The PM also blamed the former government for issuing state guarantees too easily, saying that some of these did not have cover in property. He was also critical of excessive payments received by top officials in the public sector.

The intentional lack of control over privatisation resulted in big social differences, Jansa said. He also put the accusing finger on the centre-left government for permitting monopolies of some state-owned companies.

The labour market is inflexible, and as such contributes to unemployment, Jansa said. As a result, economic growth was not 4% as the previous government promised at the beginning of its term in office, Jansa said, accusing his predecessors of failing to deliver on their promises.

The prime minister also quoted the previous government's failings in transport, excessive red tape, court backlogs. There are huge backlogs elsewhere too: the Finance Ministry has accumulated some 10,000 pending cases, of which 7,000 pertain to taxes, while there are some 8,000 pending cases at the Interior Ministry.

Jansa also found fault with the school system, which he believes is too centralised, the demographic policy of the previous government and the financial position of municipalities, something that he described as "alarming".

The government furthermore found wrongdoing to the detriment of the state and public interest, Jansa said. According to him, the former government, for example, signed contracts carrying substantial financial consequences for the state without a legal basis and at the time when it no longer had full responsibilities.

There were also attempts to influence law enforcement bodies, Jansa said, adding that public contracting was not always based on public tenders. Many public procurement procedures were annulled, while there were also delays and some conditions in the tenders were adapted to suit individual contractors, Jansa said.

Commenting on the bill on the public broadcaster, which is to be debated by the government tomorrow, Jansa said the act was needed and that it should be passed as soon as possible.

Speaking about foreign policy, Jansa said that his government inherited outstanding problems with Croatia, as well as inefficient system of drawing money from EU funds and problems with the protection of Slovenian minorities in other countries.

Source: Slovene Press Agency STA

Author: STA