Open letter to the Government concerning public service financing
Ljubljana, 12 April - Upon 100 days of absence of public service financing, Slovenian Press Agency (STA) director Bojan Veselinovič has sent an open letter to the government saying he is granting it access to all books of account and documents, even though the STA has never received a formal request to that effect.
Open letter to the Government of the Republic of Slovenia
To whomever it may concern,
Saturday marked the 100th day that the STA has provided its public service obligation without receiving a single euro for the performance thereof.
In providing grounds why it has decided to suspend the financing of the STA's public service, the Government has argued that the STA is yet to deliver documentation on the basis of which it could determine "appropriate financing". It said that as the director, I have been called upon twice this year to sign the public service agreement for this year but have not expressed any interest in doing so.
Neither is true.
This is why I am publicly letting the Government of the Republic of Slovenia as the sole shareholder of the STA know that as the director of the STA, I am granting it access to all books of account and documentation, even though the Government has never addressed a request to that effect to the company.
Not a single government office or body, the Government Communications Office (UKOM) included, has so far produced a government decision on the transfer of shareholder rights concerning this request.
This is why I am making a public appeal to the Government to state in writing who should get access to the desired documentation and in what way.
This move may be construed by some as a legal incorrectness. But having consulted with law experts, I have nevertheless decided to do so, even though, as I have said before, the STA has never received a request from the Government as the STA's shareholder to access the documentation. Instead, the STA has been the recipient of many letters by UKOM forcing me as the director into unlawful action, and on the receiving end of discreditation targeting the agency, staff, and me as director with allegations that we are concealing documentation.
This letter has been brought to the attention of the members of the STA Supervisory Board, the STA Works Council, the STA Representation of Journalists, and the STA Trade Union of Journalists.
I have to emphasise that I have opted for this step having struggled between consistent respect for a clearly defined legal framework which governs the information rights of shareholders, and a repeal of the vapid excuse by the government side which leads to the financial starvation of the STA and jeopardises the social security of the employees. The employees are not my captives, they will become the victims of the conduct of the Government, which has refused to pay the public service the STA has been performing, driving the agency towards the precipice at the cusp of its 30th anniversary.
The seventh anti-corona law (PKP7) stipulates that funds for the STA public service for this year are provided from the national budget in accordance with the agency's Business Plan for 2021, regardless of whether the agency has signed a public service agreement with its founder.
The Act on the STA also clearly states that the business plan serves as the basis for the assessment of "appropriate financing" and consequently for setting the public service fee. The STA Supervisory Board confirmed the Business Plan for 2021 in December, when it was also forwarded to the Government. At the time we also asked the Government to draw up a public service agreement for this year. We are yet to receive an agreement. Under the provisions of the PKP7, the agreement is not a prerequisite for payment, which is why the claims that I have been called upon, twice, to sign the agreement and have not shown any interest in doing so, are completely unjustified. It is true, however, that the Government has not honoured its obligations towards the STA either in accordance with the PKP7 or the Act on the STA.
The certified auditor has issued a warning regarding that. In its opinion, it has determined that the financial statements fairly present the STA's financial operations in 2020. But it has noted that the founder's failure to honour its obligations has a negative impact on the liquidity position of the STA and poses a threat to the company as a going concern.
It is the duty of the Government of the Republic of Slovenia as the representative of the founder to honour its legal obligations and prevent the collapse of the STA.