Smerkolj Confirmed as New Development Minister

21. 11. 2014

Smerkolj Confirmed as New Development Minister

The National Assembly appointed Alenka Smerkolj minister without portfolio for development, strategic projects and cohesion in a 53:19 vote on Wednesday. She was backed by coalition MPs, while the opposition Democrats (SDS) and the United Left (ZL) voted against. The Alliance of Alenka Bratušek (ZaAB) abstained.


Smerkolj, who is succeeding Violeta Bulc, Slovenia's new European commissioner, at the post, said in her parliamentary presentation on Friday her first goal for next year would be the national development strategy.


She said she would strive for development, effective use of the remaining EU funds available to Slovenia in the 2007-2013 period and effective drawing of funds in the 2014-2020 period.


PM Miro Cerar told MPs today he was confident that Smerkolj, who has so far served as state secretary at the ministry, would perform her duties professionally, successfully, responsibly, eagerly and transparently.


The deputy group of the ruling Miro Cerar Party (SMC) and the junior coalition Pensioners' Party (DeSUS) echoed this with MP Franc Jurša saying that DeSUS expected her to be proactive also when it comes to drawing EU funds for intergenerational cooperation and funds for the generation 50+, which was one of the most vulnerable groups next to the young.



Andreja Katič of the junior coalition Social Democrats (SD) pointed out that in order for Slovenia to improve its phasing of EU funds in the new financial perspective, as part of which EUR 3.2bn were available to Slovenia, it would have to set up a better system of coordination among ministries, which was why it needed new economy minister as soon as possible.


Matej Tonin of the opposition New Slovenia (NSi), which did not oppose Smerkolj's appointment, noted that the new minister was faced with a tough challenge in phasing of EU funds, as the previous government had been rather passive in this field.


ZaAB MP Mirjam Bon Klanjšček expressed hope that Smerkolj had learned from the mistakes Slovenia had made in the 2007-2013 perspective and urged her to call on the municipalities which were granted EU funds for projects that will evidently not be able to be carried out to abandon the projects.


The SDS was critical of Smerkolj's role as state secretary in the endorsing of the new national plan for drawing of EU funds. According to MP Suzana Lep Šimenko, two different plans should have been drawn up, as the eastern region is lagging behind the western in terms of development, which was why Slovenia received around half of billion euros more funds in the past.


Lep Šimenko also said that the plan which government sent to Brussels had not been the same as the one which had been confirmed by the council of regions.


The ZL deputy group meanwhile opposed the new minister, because they oppose the government "strategy of sales and austerity measures", which they believe will push the country back into recession.



Source: SloveniaTimes



Smerkolj Confirmed as New Development Minister