Slovenian finance minister Mramor unexpectedly resigns

Slovenian finance minister Mramor unexpectedly resigns
By Ivana Jovanovic in Belgrade July 13, 2016

Slovenian Finance Minister Dusan Mramor unexpectedly resigned on July 13 citing "exclusively personal reasons" and announcing he would return to academia.

Mramor, who had served as minister of finance since September 2014, was well respected within Slovenia and internationally, and his decision to stand down is a blow to the coalition led by Prime Minister Miro Cerar’s Party of Modern Centre. There have already been calls from the opposition for the government to resign.

Mramor’s resignation also came just few days after the July 6 police raid at the central bank, part of a criminal investigation into the 2013 overhaul of the banking sector. Mramor was not part of the government at the time of the overhaul, and the two events are not believed to be connected.

Cerar accepted Mramor’s resignation and at their joint press conference on July 13 announced he would present his candidate for the new finance minister in August, adding that the government would continue on its set course.

Cerar said he knew what Mramor’s reasons for stepping down were and that he respected Mramor's decision.

“Mramor's resignation will not change the government's policies and the cabinet will continue to strive for its goals, including those concerning public finances,” Cerar said, adding that the ministry of finance had achieved a lot under Mramor's leadership.

Mramor will be replaced by Development Minister Alenka Smerkolj from July 14, until his successor is appointed, Cerar announced.

Despite Cerar’s assurances of business as usual, the opposition New Slovenia Party has already called for early elections, claiming there was “huge conflict and tension within the coalition” and that with Mramor’s resignation it had “lost its queen”. “ Once the queen falls, it is only a matter of time before the king falls. This coalition government has finally been weakened,” the party’s Matej Tonin said in a statement.

“If this coalition insisted on a further two years, we will see only the agony of mutual accusations and stagnation. For the long-term future of Slovenia, it is best to hold early elections as soon as possible,” he added.

An independent candidate, Mramor was appointed finance minister when Cerar’s coalition government came to office after the 2014 general election. He previously held the position in 2002-2004.

Mramor said at the July 13 press conference that the country had exited the EU's Excessive Deficit Procedure (EDP) during his mandate, which his sees as his greatest achievement.

The European Commission closed the EDP for Slovenia on June 19 after the country managed to bring its deficits below the 3% threshold in 2015.

The Slovenian economy returned to growth 2014, with the economy expanding by 3%, and the positive trend continued in 2015 and 2016.

Mramor’s contribution was also seen as crucial in stabilising the financial sector following the recapitalisation of several Slovenian banks in 2013, when Slovenia narrowly escaped an international bailout. This included the restructuring of six state-owned lenders including the country’s two largest banks.

Mramor was also expected to oversee the upcoming IPO of Slovenia's largest lender NLB, announced by Slovenian Sovereign Holding, which manages the country’s state-owned assets and privatisations.

He served as dean of the Faculty of Economics in Ljubljana for six years between 2007 and 2013, as well as chairman of the board of the University of Ljubljana from 2000 to 2002 and 2009 to 2013. From 1997 to 2001, Mramor was an associate dean at the Ljubljana Faculty of Economics.