Ljubljana – The National Assembly began debating the draft Public Finance Balance Act proposed by the Government, which includes a package of austerity measures valued at almost 800 million euros, which is the basis for the revised 2012 budget. The good news before the beginning of the debate is that the suspended strike of the public sector has been called off , as the Government and public sector unions have finally signed a strike agreement, after a month of negotiations, which regulates the issues between the Government and unions on strike, while providing the basis for alleviating some austerity measures in the Public Finance Balance Act. By signing the Agreement, the unions have agreed not to lodge a demand for a referendum.
Therefore, in his address to MPs before the beginning of the debate, PM Janez Janša also thanked social partners, as the strike agreement signed today provides a good basis for continuing negotiations on the social agreement. The PM stressed that by adopting the revised budget and proposed austerity measures, the real work was only beginning, as stabilising public finances is only the first step in reviving economic growth.
In addition to continuing negotiations on the social agreement, which are to conclude by 20 June, the PM mentioned as one of the key tasks the drafting of a budget for the next two years in which the deficit will have to continue to fall below 3 or cent of GDP. According to finance minister Janez Šuštaršič, this commitment will expectably be enshrined in the Constitution as the golden fiscal rule; he added that failure to adopt the austerity package would mean that Slovenia would continue with almost zero economic growth for the next few years, with unemployment rising to 15 per cent or even exceeding that figure.
The revised budget will reduce this year’s government spending to just over nine billion euros, which is 1.1. billion euros less than was included in this year’s budget as approved at the end of 2010, the implementation of which, however, has been frozen since the beginning of this year. Budget revenue will also be lower by over 500 million euros than first estimated, totalling 7.9 billion euros.
With the Public Finance Balance Act, the Government proposed lowering spending by almost 800 million euros. In his address to the National Assembly, Mr. Šuštaršič said that substantial adjustments in the public sector were also necessary and justified because the private sector has made greater adjustments to the crisis than the public sector in previous years.