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Govt Adopts Constitutional Change to Introduce Golden Rule

Ljubljana, 08 March (STA) - The government adopted on Thursday a proposal for amending the Constitution to introduce the golden fiscal rule stipulating that the national budget must be either balanced on in surplus. This is in line with the recent EU agreement on a fiscal pact and is expected to enter into force in 2015.

Finance Minister Janez Šušteršič told the press after the government session that the changes to Article 148 of the Constitution allowed exceptions to the fiscal rule in case of natural or other disasters and other extraordinary circumstances.

This is in line with the fiscal pact, signed last Friday by all EU member states bar the UK and Czech Republic, which says that extraordinary circumstances are events out of the control of the state or a severe economic depression.

A condition is that the temporary deviation from the rule does not undermine the medium-term fiscal sustainability, Šušteršič said, adding that the rule still allowed the government to provide economic stimulus in time of recession.

The minister assessed that the European Commission will rule out that Slovenia has properly transposed the golden fiscal rule in its legislation.

If the Commission establishes that a signatory does not respect the golden fiscal rule, other signatories have the right to refer the case to the European Court of Justice.

The ruling of the court will be binding and violators will be given a time period in which they have to introduce remedial measures.

The government wants the fiscal rule to enter into force in 2015, but all budgets from the passage of the constitutional change onwards have to be prepared and adopted in a way which will enable adherence to the rule in the future, Šušteršič explained.

A constitutional commission has been already appointed to finalise the wording of the constitutional amendment, and the government is expected to adopt the accompanying constitutional law defining the implementation of the rule.

The law would need a two-thirds majority in parliament to get passed, Šušteršič said, adding that the law should be passed as soon as possible. The deadline is six months, he added.

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