UPDATE ON CORONA POLICIES FROM SLOVENIA
UPDATE ON CORONA POLICIES FROM SLOVENIA
Not sure if you know, but in Slovenia a new government took over on March Friday the 13th, just as Corona reached the status of the pandemic. The government leading us through this crisis is a right wing one, led by Janez Janša a convicted criminal and a good friend of the Hungarian Prime Minister Victor Orban). Needless to say this puts us a bit behind most EU countries when it comes to taking measures in dealing with the crisis. All measures will be compiled under one MEGA LAW (the name our government uses) including the measures regarding the arts sector.
It is still in coordination and should go to the parliament today.
The last news we got was that most of the amendments proposed in connection to dealing with those in the most precarious situations were declined.
There are no measures dealing directly with the arts sector specifically and no public institution is part of this particular law but the measurements do concern the independent sector.
Here are the few measurements it proposes that touch upon the independent artists and organizations:
>> Temporary income for artists : There is a proposition under which the artists and self-employed have the right to a basic income during the crisis (April and May) and the government takes over the payment of their social security contributions.
Income will be € 350 for March and € 700 for April and May. And will be distributed based on the following criteria:
- at least a 25% decrease in revenues in March 2020 compared to February 2020
- at least a 50% reduction in revenues in April or May 2020 compared to February 2020.
At the same time, the state will check at the end of the year:
- whether the income has decreased by more than 20% in the first half of 2020 compared to the same period in 2019
- and if the recipients of the aid did not earn more than 20% in the second half of 2020 compared to the same period in 2019.
If these conditions are not met, the beneficiary will have to repay all aid, income and contributions written off, with interest on late payments.
At the same time the measurements taken are leaving out the ones that are the most vulnerable since those artists that do not earn enough to be self-employed and pay their social security on a monthly basis cannot apply for the basic income.
Asociacija the umbrella organization of the NGOs sent proposals to amend the law in following ways:
- to take into consideration the decline of revenue based on the average of the last two years so to include the professionals that are highly seasonal and whose work is heavily project based and therefore very unevenly distributed between months.
- to allow artists to enter the basic income scheme based only on a statement they are foreseeing a loss of income due to the consequences of the epidemic - without other entry conditions (since estimates based on one month make little sense in a project based work). After the end of the year, these estimates should be reexamined how much loss there was compared to the previous two years. If the self-employed earned more than expected he should return the difference without the interests.
Unfortunately their amendments were refused by the financial committee.
>> Social security for cultural workers: those arts workers that have the status of an self-employed cultural worker (which is a special discipline for cultural workers enabling them to have the minimum social security covered by the state) are to keep this status and the right to have their social security covered by the state till end of August 2020 even if they were due to renew it before June 1st or the status has already expired and the decision about prolongation was not made yet.
>> Taxes and income tax for small companies have been frozen and income tax reports delayed until the end of May for self-employed.
>>The government has also frozen 30% of the budget intended for public use until the amendment of the state budget. Which effectively means a possibility of up to 30% budget cuts for everyone on subsidies. Cultural NGOs have already started receiving notifications from certain organizations which give out grants that all contracts for project funding are being suspended until further notice.
So far there are no measurements aimed at helping the cultural sector specifically.
Most theatres and other cultural institutions have been closed since March 13th and so far there is no official news about reopening the cultural sector. The unofficial estimates from within the sector are the venues will not reopen until September.
So as you may imagine there is a lot of effort and energy invested in this moment at following the local developments as most small organisations and freelancers deal with the fundamental issues of how to srvive the rest of the year.