The guest of honor at the AmCham Business Breakfast, held in November, was a Minister, who is a great expert in economy. Mr. Samo Omerzel, Minister of Infrastructure and Spatial Planning, has proved successful in the business world as he commercialized many ideas and created workplaces and as well succeeded in the international business environment. With a high degree of responsiveness, openness and readiness for substantiated dialogue and for active participation, he shows a great concern in the needs of the economy.

The conversation with the minister was led by excellent moderator Nevenka Črešnar Pergar, Co-Chair of the AmCham Environment and Spatial Committee, who knows thoroughly the issues of the main topic presented at the AmCham Business Breakfast.

A well-organized infrastructure, energy efficiency and a more flexible spatial planning are essential for increasing the competitiveness of the Slovenian economy.

Well aware of this fact, the minister presented his proposals regarding the indicated spheres of work, which will be introduced at the Ministry of Infrastructure and Spatial Planning.

Transparent – Easy – Effective

In his speech addressed to economists and numerous ambassadors present, who showed a great interest in his points of view, he said that quite a few good attempts had been made in the past, but there was no systematic approach, and explained that by saying this he did not mean to indicate it as a complaint to the previous government, but as an opportunity for him and his ministry, as consequently they wanted to in the present as well forever make concrete movements in all areas of the ministry: »We are all aware that the procedures in spatial planning are too long and complicated, for which our top priority is to shorten and simplify them. Therefore, we have prepared some systematic solutions«.









The Minister listed 3 important steps:

. The Reform of the Legal Framework;

2. Setting the enforcement of the law;

3. Implementation of the new program eProstor (e-Space), as IT support for spatial planning, project phase and procedures / processes for building permits.

The minister as well presented his proposals for a new system of spatial planning, which were to be discussed the following day by the Government:

1. to identify the main stakeholders in the process and determining their role – providing IT support in their processes;

2. to determine the appropriate point for spatial planning and building permit into the process of determining key phases and output information – providing IT support;

3. to establish a process to achieve the goal – to enable investors to obtain adequate conditions, building permits and start the construction works as soon as possible;

»One Stop Shop« (as quoted – All On One Spot) for the investor

The minister pointed out the current procedures and organization of spatial planning and building to be unreasonable and complicated and therefore set as the priority among the changes planned to be the introduction of the spatial information system, which would serve to potential investors as the so-called »one stop shop«, which would on one spot provide the approach to all the requested information and to obtaining the necessary documents for the construction. The concept, named eProstor, will be very user friendly. The spatial information system will be divided into eGradnjo (e-Building), ePlaniranje (e-Planning) and local control system and into eOdobritev (e-Approval) and ePrivolitev (e-Consent). Such system would denote that everything is on one spot and that one should only submit one application, which would be further dealt with.

Minister Samo Omerzel pointed out the main solutions, which would be brought by the above mentioned new system:

1. Renovation of power, content and spatial planning processes, with an emphasis on the integration of planning and environmental processes, the more active role of other ministries and relevant organizations and the new distribution of the content of plan acts.

2. The renovation process of granting building permits with a focus on easier and faster issuing approvals under the principle of “one stop shop “, with the possibility of obtaining ” prior authorization “; the new system of construction, supervision.

3. Improvements of existing spatial plans (expropriation, access to the acquisition of building plots, etc.) and a new system of the management of areas that are intended to become building land.

The minister as well listed the main necessary changes to the existing system:

1. Unification of the divided contents, which is now in four acts (ZUreP-1, ZPNačrt, ZUPUDP, ZGO-1) into one spatial planning and building act.

2. Thorough overview of the coordination of sectoral legislation, looking for gaps, duplication of procedures, contradictory legal requirements and proposals for the amendment of certain acts (ZVO-1, ZOPN, ZV, ZVKD, ZKZ).

3. The IT support (e-gradnja (e-Building), e-načrtovanje (e-Planning), e-homologacija (e-Approval), e-soglasje (e-consent).

4. Changes in executive structures: optimized organizational structure at the national, regional and local level; administrative units and other organizations (agencies), a list of their powers and their local organization.

»Slovenia should be first in something, not merely imitator of foreign models«, is convinced the e-Minister

Minister Omerzel sees the solution for easier and quicker obtaining building permits in Slovenia in the future of electronic tools and in the establishment of e-Graditev (e-Building), which means that everything would be in 3D technology. “Everything is of course related to the sharing of knowledge and my primary task is to know how to connect all the stakeholders in this process. It is a realizable idea. This must be our common goal. Execution is entirely up to us. I have some ideas of how to connect everything and we strive for Slovenia to be the first in the EU to introduce such a system and that we are not always merely imitators of foreign models and systems”, the minister said.

I do not take quick and thoughtless, but systemic and long-term solutions

Nevenka Črešnar Pergar was to her question raised to the minister of what makes him so certain that he will succeed to introduce all these necessary changes, which his predecessor failed to realize, given a very direct and honest answer: “I believe that I am as a minister lucky that my experiences are based on engineer knowledge and that I have almost always built systems. I am convinced that (too) fast reactions and solutions do not bring long-term positive results. Therefore I’m always looking for system solutions and long-term strategies that solve problems once and for always. Otherwise I do not even commence”.

Priority of e-Minister is the formation of energy strategy for Slovenia

Minister Samo Omerzel in the dialogue with Nevenka Črešnar Pergar spoke also about priorities of the energy sector: »Energy is of course very important for our environment, however, at taking up the post of Minister, I was very disappointed at the fact that Slovenia does not have a national energy strategy, or has a too complicated one. Therefore, it is my first priority to form the energy strategy for Slovenia, i.e. »Law No. 1«, which includes the energy package. I believe the Slovenian energy is a very healthy sector. By the end of the year, we will prepare a firm basis of strategy, which will be short and good. There will not be 500 written pages, but perhaps only 30 – similar as the Germans have it prepared«.

Before signing the contract for hydroelectric power station on the Sava River

“We are just before signing the contract as concerns the construction of hydroelectric power station on the Sava River, but the local community wants us to build them a new local road, which at the present means an additional investment, therefore we must first determine whether the project is remunerative or not. We are looking for solutions”, the minister described the current situation. He said that after his brief experience in the department of safety analysis at the Nuclear Power Plant Krško, he can tell that he is very much in favor of nuclear power, that he believes that it is the best energy system, and therefore hopes that the investment in the new block will be provided as soon as possible. The minister believes that both power stations may ensure stable energy production to Slovenia.

Price of electricity in the future

To the provocative question raised by the moderator of how he believes all the problems in the construction of TEš 6 will affect the price of electricity in the future – since at the time he was taking up the role of the minister, he promised that during his mandate he will enable as much as 10 % cheaper electricity in Slovenia, the minister answered: “Although it is difficult, I will keep my promise. By promising I had especially the cost associated with the infrastructure, which has to be optimized, in my mind.”

TEš 6

To the question whether the TEš 6 for its very expensive investment would be at all able to sell power at a price that would guarantee profit, the minister replied shortly: »Currently, we have exhaustive talks on how to proceed and take action«.

Slovenian Railways showed a profit this year

The minister stressed his satisfaction and publicly congratulated the management of the Slovenian Railways, which this year created profit – which, according to the minister, was not easy at all, as they had to solve a lot of problems from the past.

The minister also confirmed that he supports public-private partnerships and privatization of infrastructure and stressed the urgent need for a good connection of Slovenian Railways and the Port of Koper, which, according to the Minister, is for its excellent geo- strategic position extremely important for the Slovenian economy. Therefore, Slovenia will very soon invest certain funds for the development. The minister as well does not see any obstacles, if a private owner would wish to invest in the Port of Koper.

A good and long-term concession is possible for DARS

The Minister also pointed out that the quality of highways in Slovenia is very high, but also the debts due to the construction of motorways are also very high. According to the Minister, DARS must be able to implement and also guarantee for the quality of operations carried out: “If DARS will not be able to do it, we know who is going to have to,” was clear the Minister and said that he sees no obstacles in DARS getting the concession, which however, as quoted by the Minister, has to be good and long-term.

It is very important for Adria and Ljubljana Airport who will be the owner

The Minister puts to the Ljubljana Airport – Letališče Jožeta Pučnika, the credit for its significance as regards the national economy and tourism. He presented an example of good practice of how the Singapore Airport was solved and developed to international dimensions and pointed out that it is very important who will be the owner of Adria and the Ljubljana Airport.

I want to make a strategy that would be the best for the nation

To the question of which plan or goal is the highest in his personal rankings, the Minister replied: “At the beginning of my mandate, a number of “consultants” advised me not to solve everything at once, and that I should choose only a few smaller projects and focus only on them. I do not agree with them and I actually work the other way around. As I have already mentioned, my priority is energy strategy. In this government I would like to form a strategy that would be the best for the Slovenian nation and Slovenia, so that we will know where our place in the new country – the EU, is”.