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Speaker: Situation in Slovenia Not as Black as Painted

Ljubljana, 21 September (STA) - The situation of Slovenian public finances is not as black as is sometimes painted, but the right moves will have to be made, stressed Speaker Gregor Virant as he discussed challenges of the Slovenian public sector with Court of Audit president Igor Šoltes at the Days of Slovenian Administration on Friday.

Slovenia is not facing bankruptcy and is not in a situation ripe for requesting international aid, Virant stressed, adding that the question was whether the country would make the right decisions.

There is no need for such drastic cuts that were needed in some other countries, he said, explaining that cuts in public sector pay and other social transfers had not been radical.

However, the pay system in the public sector will be changed to become more flexible, especially in promotions and work effectiveness, Virant noted.

The speaker believes that Slovenia must gain credibility and become competitive in the eyes of the international community and investors. Maybe Slovenia is not very competitive in certain fields because "we paint the picture even bleaker than it actually is", he added.

The Court of Audits president meanwhile stressed that bureaucratic hurdles were also in the way of a friendlier economic environment, pointing to the public procurement act, which "blocks normal development".

Šoltes also said that the fiscal rule was not a solution by itself. He believes that simulations would have to be made and mechanisms for monitoring its implementation, supervision and sanctions established.

Every measure and rule must be based on a long-term strategy for Slovenia's future, Šoltes stressed, adding that the Constitution and the fact that Slovenia is a welfare state must be considered.

Touching on recent talk about further sackings in the public sector, he stressed that all legal consequences as well as risks of interfering with the gained rights must be considered. Lay-offs in both private and public sector are not possible without reason, he added.

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