STA urges govt to restore financing
Ljubljana, 28 December - The management of the Slovenian Press Agency (STA) has appealed to Prime Minister Janez Janša and members of his government to support the call by the agency's staff and supervisory board for the Government Communication Office (UKOM) to restore the financing of the public service provided by the STA.
In a press release on Monday, the STA management says that after failing to pay the STA the fee for public service for October, UKOM now also rejected the claim for the fee for November as well as refused to pay for the services provided by the STA for the government administration for October and November.
It notes that UKOM had been regularly meeting its liabilities against the STA until October, but stopped since then even though the regulatory framework has not changed in the meantime.
"Through arbitrary suspension of financing of the public service, UKOM has overstepped its powers under law and contract," the release reads, adding that such a view had been upheld by the government legislation service as well as by a legal opinion commissioned by the STA.
The STA continues to perform the public service as set out by the relevant law, thus honouring its commitments despite the suspension of financing, while the government has not yet taken its position on the matter, despite several appeals, notes the release.
UKOM continues to make the monthly payments conditional on the handover of certain documents, despite failing to cite the legal basis or provide a suitable authorisation to access those documents, the management says.
Repeating its readiness to provide requested information to the owner in accordance with valid legislation, the management notes that it follows from a freedom of information request response to a coalition MP that the government as the STA shareholder has never authorised UKOM to act on its behalf.
The STA management also notes that the parliamentary Culture Committee on 14 December urged the government to meet within three days its obligations and pay the STA for its services and thus ensure the agency's continued stability. UKOM has not honoured the committee's resolution and has even announced it will not pay any more invoices to STA this year.
This is why the STA management expects the government to restore financing of the STA for 2020 and to sign the annual agreement to pay the STA for public service in 2021, being that as the sole STA shareholder it has an obligation to ensure comprehensive and undisrupted performance of the STA public service based on the annual business plan.
The STA supervisory board adopted the 2021 business plan and sent it to the government on 21 December.
The management wonders how long the government would allow such a situation to continue. "Allowing such a situation calls all members of the government to responsibility to put in their word and do all within their remit for regular financing of the STA's activities to be resumed," reads the release.