STA to become part of emerging Demographic Fund
Ljubljana, 10 February - The emerging National Demographic Fund might become the founder and the only shareholder of the Slovenian Press Agency (STA), according to an amendment to the government-sponsored bill on the new fund. The agency's founder and only shareholder is now the Republic of Slovenia, with the government acting on behalf of the state.
The amendment was endorsed on Wednesday as the parliamentary Finance Committee debated the Demographic Fund bill, preparing it for a vote at a plenary session.
Under the amendment, the fund would assume the roles of the STA's founder and only shareholder on the day the new law is implemented.
The amendment was backed today after a similar one filed by the coalition SDS, SMC and NSi was withdrawn following a remark from the parliament's legal service.
Apart from envisaging changes to the law on the STA, the original amendment envisaged changes to the laws governing rail company Slovenske Železnice, stud farm Kobilarna Lipica, and the publisher of the Official Gazette.
But the legal service had a problem with not all companies in which the Republic of Slovenia has a stake managed by the government being listed, arguing this would call for changing all the other laws which are related to the transfer of state assets from the Slovenian Sovereign Holding onto the new fund.
The amendment was then withdrawn, but it also envisaged four members of the STA's supervisory board being no longer appointed by parliament upon the government's proposal, but by the Demographic Fund.
Today, the left-leaning opposition walked out of the session, also announcing the possibility of a referendum.
Another bill concerning the STA is currently in parliamentary procedure, setting down, upon the opposition Left's proposal, that the STA's English Service must report on voluntary and non-governmental organisations.
The proposal has already passed first reading although the government does not support it; the Culture Ministry has said the government is working on its changes to the STA law.
In July, the government sent into public consultation a set of changes to several media laws, including the one on the STA, but the package was strongly criticised by the opposition, media experts and journalist associations.
The changes to the STA law envisaged changing the agency's funding and management, which the STA labelled a big step backward in terms of its autonomy and independence.
The STA and the Government Communication Office (UKOM) are currently in dispute over funding, with UKOM having suspended the payment of its bills at the end of 2020, but later unfroze the money, whereas a new contract for public service for 2021 has not yet been signed.