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Slovenia Business Week no. 52: Damijan Appointed Minister without Portfolio

Damijan will take over as the head of the Office for the Coordination of the Implementation of Slovenia's Development Strategy as of 2006

Joze P. Damijan was appointed a minister without portfolio for overseeing the implementation of the government-sponsored economic and social reforms, as the parliament concluded its regular December session on Tuesday, 20 December

Damijan was appointed in a 47:23 vote, and will take over as the head of the Office for the Coordination of the Implementation of Slovenia's Development Strategy as of 2006.

The office will be composed of a sector for economic and a sector for social reforms, and will employ 15 people in addition to the minister and a state secretary.

In outlining the reasons for a minister without portfolio, Jansa, who nominated Damijan, said the implementation of Slovenia's Development Strategy must be coordinated on a government level.

Damijan, who has a PhD in economics, was appointed the chair of a government reform committee by Jansa in July. The 200-strong team was tasked with drafting guidelines for comprehensive reforms.

The reforms, whose core measure would be a flat tax rate and radical changes to the social benefits system, were adopted by the government in early November.

The reforms have been met with severe opposition from trade unions, pensioners and students as well as by some opposition parties, chiefly for undermining the welfare state.

Damijan of the Ljubljana Faculty of Economics is the author of various articles as well as a member of the editorial board of the IB revija magazine and the Economic and Business Review.

He has also received various prizes, such as the EARIE young economist prize, as well as a KU Leuven Research Fellowship (2004) and European Commission, DG EcFin, Visiting Research Fellowship (2005).

Joze P. Damijan has said he sees his role as a minister not only as a coordinator of the implementation of the country's Development Strategy, but also as a facilitator of an open debate to reach a consensus on Slovenia's economic and social reforms.

Speaking for STA after being appointed to oversee Slovenia's structural reforms, Damijan said that Slovenia has to press ahead with reforms, or risk a drop in the standard of living for its population in the next few years.

"This reasoning is present in entire Europe as well as among all Slovenian political parties; differences can only emerge in views on the manner and pace of the implementation of reforms," said the new minister.

He also expressed a desire that the citizens understand that the role of the office for the coordination and implementation of reforms is to positively influence the Slovenian economy and society.

"I am convinced that in the next year, by explaining individual measures and presenting detailed calculations, we will be able to prove that the [government-sponsored] reforms will give us all a better tomorrow," he told STA.

Source: Slovene Press Agency STA

Author: STA