Ljubljana, December 8, 2014 / Independent Balkan News Agency
Review Hari Stefanatos
Zdravko Počivalšek is the new Economy, Development and Technology Minister of Slovenia after his appointment by the National Assembly with a 53-14 vote on Thursday. The majority of MPs gave their support to Počivalšek, with the exemption of the opposition Democrats (SDS) and United Left (ZL), while the Alliance of Alenka Bratušek (ZaAB) did not take part in the vote.
According to his statements, the new Economy Minister priorities lie with providing support to export-oriented companies and the improvement of the business environment in Slovenia, while he opposes the raise of existing corporate taxes and the introduction of new ones.
Počivalšek also plans to improve the support system for small businesses and help boost the country’s tourism industry.
Franc Jurša, deputy group leader of the junior coalition Pensioners’ Party (DeSUS), said: “you can see that he is a man of actions, referring to the new Economy Minister”.
Matej Tonin of the opposition New Slovenia (NSi) stated that “Počivalšek knows exactly what to do”, but expressed his doubt whether he has what it takes to succeed.
Marko Ferluga of the ruling Miro Cerar Party (SMC), appeared more optimistic however, stating that Počivalšek is exactly what Slovenia needs in an Economy minister.
What’s more, Andreja Katič of the coalition of Social Democrats (SD) said that business representatives welcomed the nomination of Počivalšek.
The ZL on the other hand expressed fear that the policy of “blocking development on the backs of workers” would continue. ZL MP Franc Trček said that Počivalšek did not provide any substance in regard to economic policy. His views were echoed by SDS MP Suzana Lep Šimenko, who said that Počivalšek’s answers at the committee hearing were very general and often in discord with the policy of the coalition.
Meanwhile, ZaAB decided to abstain from the vote, although its MP Peter Vilfan labelled the PM’s choice as good.
In his first interview as Economy Minister one day after his appointment, Počivalšek speaking on television on Friday, took the part of the business organisation in their dispute with the government, saying that he would fight against new taxes.
The government announced on Thursday its decision to introduce certified cash registers starting September 1, in an attempt to battle tax evasion.
Small businesses, however, have opposed the measure pointing instead to unregistered vendors as the source of the problem. The Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GZS), on the other hand, which represents large and medium-sized companies, is in favour of the measure, but argues towards lower tax rates.
Počivalšek’s position on the issue is that he is undecided between the croatian and the austrian model, but does not think Slovenia was mature enough for Austria’s. While Croatia has a tough system of certified cash registers, Austria does not have a system of cash registers directly linked to the IT system of the national revenue service.
“However, progress is needed in the fight against shadow economy,” the minister said, adding that it was not just cash registers what he had in mind. He also called for measures to enhance the rule of law and such that would affect everyone involved in the shadow economy.