Reconstruction of rivers a priority for govt

Ljubljana/Ljubno ob Savinji, 24 August - A priority for the government is to increase discharge capacity of rivers in the areas affected the the early August floods, Minister of Natural Resources and Spatial Planning Uroš Brežan told the press after the government session, as he presented some of the measures the new emergency bill brings.

Enough people and machines will thus be sent to do the work in the watercourses, also to make sure that the country is better prepared for new extreme weather events.

The bill expands emergency reconstruction from applying only to the existing dimensions of buildings to also cover buildings whose dimensions will change, for which no building permit will be needed, he explained.

This is only one of a number of simplified administrative procedures the bill brings to enhance the post-flood reconstruction, including in public procurement, while public servants will be reassigned to where their services are most needed and unemployment persons will be included in the reconstruction efforts.

Brežan announced the preparation of a detailed spatial plan to eliminate the consequences of natural disasters in collaboration with the affected municipalities.

"We will introduce a new facility that will speed up acquiring land in affected areas and thus enable building new homes for the affected people," he said.

Public Administration Minister Sanja Ajanović Hovnik said a bill that will bring measures to reconstruct the victims' homes or build new ones will be adopted very soon.

In 2023 and 2024, the affected municipalities will be able to borrow more to increase liquidity to make them more flexible payment-wise, said Finance Minister Klemen Boštjančič.

Once the programme of elimination of the consequences of natural disasters is adopted, municipalities could get more budgetary funds to cope with natural disasters.

How much funds will be available, under what conditions and how they will have to be used will be set by the government.

Municipalities will be able to use donations for the purpose of post-flood reconstruction without having to revise their budget.

The costs of waste collection will be paid by the state.

Minister Ajanović Hovnik said that the destructive power of torrential waters and landslides caused damage estimated at around EUR 5 billion.

However, she said the country is going about the post-floed reconstruction "in a different way, interdisciplinary way".

"We are focussed on smart urban reconstruction that takes into account the realities of climate change. We need modern watercourses and riverbanks, 21st century infrastructure, modernisation of these areas," she said, adding that development measures for the affected areas and Slovenia as a whole must not be neglected either.

© STA, 2023