The Slovenian National Assembly adopted on Thursday a EUR 3 billion stimulus package aiming to cushion the impact of coronavirus on Slovenia’s economy and the people. The majority of the measures was also welcomed by the opposition, whose criticism about groups that remain neglected was met with assurances a new set of measures was already in the making.
The coronavirus umbrella law brings financial assistance for companies and workers affected by the epidemic as well as for the self-employed, pensioners, students, large families and welfare recipients.
Key measures aimed at the companies include full state coverage of the 80% compensation for temporary redundant employees, as well as two months of the social contribution costs for those who remain employed. Financial and insurance companies are excluded from both measures.
Companies will moreover be relieved of corporate income tax for the duration of the bill and will be able to defer loan payments by 12 months, while the state will also chip in with loan guarantees.
Some of the assistance to companies is an upgrade of measures adopted in the first days of the epidemic, while the scheme has been expanded vastly to address the woes of the self-employed and vulnerable groups. The law provides for a two-month temporary basic income of EUR 350 and 700 for the former – the category also includes religious workers and farmers – and allowances for the later. Students will, for instance, get EUR 150 and pensioners with pensions of under EUR 700 between 130 and 300 euro. An extra EUR 150 will also be secured once to welfare recipients.
Moreover, pay bonuses of up to EUR 200 – partly financed by the state via contribution payment exemptions – are envisaged for workers in the private sector who are disproportionately exposed and are working overtime during the epidemic, while a 30% pay cut awaits holders of public office. On the other hand, bonuses of 10-100% of basic hourly pay are envisaged for those working harder in the public sector.
To the dismay of most opposition parties, the umbrella law also features an expansion of police powers, albeit without the initial provisions that also included the option for police to track people in quarantine without a court warrant and enter apartments.
The new powers approved allow police to issue fines for violations of lockdown rules, to erect roadblocks, temporary limit people’s freedom of movement and access sensitive personal data.
Reflecting on the measures adopted, Prime Minister Janez Janša told MPs during the plenary debate that “you’re watching the first part of a series”.
The government is trying to provide a financial cushion to enable Slovenia to preserve its potential in people, economy, culture and science in the period after the epidemic.
Aware the bill is not perfect, the government is already working on the second package of measures, which will mostly address the liquidity of the Slovenian economy.
The second package will also feature corrections to this bill, Janša said in response to those who have criticised it for overlooking some groups. “We’ve received many proposals, and many are justified”.
He also announced package a third package. We’ll also prepare a third package, in which we will formulate an exit strategy after the end of the epidemic, the PM said./ibna