Finance Committee nods to revised 2023 budget to secure EUR 520m in relief funds

Ljubljana, 29 August - The parliamentary Finance Committee unanimously backed on Tuesday a revised budget for this year to allocate EUR 520 million for flood relief measures. No serious reservations were raised, although opposition MPs suggested the funding could be more ambitious.

Bridge over the Mislinja River destroyed by floods.
Photo: Vesna Pušnik Brezovnik/STA
File photo

While EUR 300 million of the total sum will mainly come from unused reserves for potential recapitalisations of state-owned companies, an increase in government budget expenditure was required for the remaining EUR 220 million.

While this will result in the deficit expressed as a share in the country's GDP increasing from 4.5% to 4.9%, Fiscal Council head Davorič Kračun told the committee that the revisions, coming in the wake of the recent devastating floods, were sensible.

Kračun however noted that this was only a first step in the budgetary financing of the massive financial consequences of the floods. The real scope will become much more apparent when the budget documents for 2024 and 2025 are prepared in the autumn.

"While emergency measures are indeed vital, these should also be targeted to ensure the efficient use of public money and to prevent any misuse of public funds to the greatest extent possible," Kračun moreover warned.

His points were echoed by the members of the committee, with Aleksander Reberšek of the opposition New Slovenia (NSi) arguing that "the manner in which these funds will be used is crucial" even if the sum could be more ambitious.

Coalition MPs agreed that strong oversight is paramount and Lenart Žavbi of the senior coalition Freedom Movement noted that the relief legislation being adopted in parliament this week envisaged the obligation of the state to disclose all aid recipients.

As for the sum itself, Žavbi said it only addressed the costs of the rescue efforts and the very start of post-flood reconstruction. The bulk of the costs will fall to the national budget for 2024 as well as the three or more annual budgets to follow.

© STA, 2023