Amendments to Natural Disaster Relief Act cleared by both chambers

Ljubljana, 10 August - After the National Assembly unanimously passed on Wednesday changes to the Natural Disaster Relief Act to facilitate the post-flooding relief efforts, the upper chamber of parliament met today to express its intention not to veto the bill. MPs also passed a decree preventing a referendum on the changes.

National Assembly.
Photo: Bor Slana/STA

Both steps were necessary to ensure that the legislation takes effect as soon as possible.

After the session of the National Council, the National Assembly passed a decree in a 53:0 vote under which it will not be possible to challenge the changes in a referendum.

The Constitution stipulates that it is not permissible to call a referendum on laws on urgent measures to ensure national defence, security or the elimination of the consequences of natural disasters, State Secretary at the Ministry of Natural Resources and Spatial Planning Matej Skočir explained.

"Since the National Council has waived the possibility of vetoing the decision, the conditions are therefore fulfilled for adopting a decision declaring the referendum inadmissible, since it concerns a law on urgent measures for the elimination of the consequences of natural disasters," he said.

Thus, the changes are expected to be published in the Official Gazette today, which means they could enter into force on Friday.

The key provision of the amended Natural Disaster Relief Act is an advance payment to municipalities for flood relief effort totalling 40% of the estimated damage.

The changes envisage covering the entire costs of the emergency effort currently under way as well as retroactively for all natural disasters since the start of the year.

Farmers who have insured their crops will get a 100% advance payment for the lost crops based on the de minimis scheme.

A state-financed furlough scheme will be put in place to help companies that have been hit by the flooding.

Those registered as self-employed since 1 July who cannot work because of the floods or their work is hindered can apply for a monthly compensation of EUR 1,200 for August, September, October, November and December.

Companies and sole traders who will make donations for those affected by the floods on the account opened by the state will be eligible for an additional tax deduction for donations.

In line with the changes, 14 August will be declared solidarity day so that workers will get a day off to help in the effort. Employees in critical infrastructure, public health, social work, and veterinary services are expected to work normally.

© STA, 2023