STA, 24 February 2020 - The novel coronavirus COVID-19 outbreak has so far had no profound effect on Slovenia's economy, but problems have arisen in certain areas. Economy Minister Zdravko Počivalšek said on Monday that the government was deliberating mitigation measures, such as subsidies to compensate for shorter working time.
The minister pointed out though that any measures to protect public health must not interrupt the flow of goods because the country's exports depended on that.
After meeting several CEOs whose companies have been feeling the consequences of the outbreak, Počivalšek said that the ministry had been keeping track of the situation and its effect on the economy since the start.
He said the situation in Slovenia had been under control so far, but since the country had no influence on future global developments, it needed to be ready to deal with potential challenges.
Despite no major effects being determined so far, the ministry has decided to act in prevention and consider a future strategy in cooperation with economy representatives. Počivalšek intends to present potential measures at the government session on Thursday.
Problems have so far been detected mainly in tourism and logistics while a drop in sales and orders has been recorded in manufacturing, which could lead to a slowdown in production. The government is considering introducing subsidies for those waiting for work to help the affected companies and avoid lay-offs.
Slovenia introduced this measure a decade ago during the economic crisis and Počivalšek said he hoped it would not need to be introduced again.
Closing the borders would be the country's last resort, he stressed.
Slovenia's tourism has been worst hit by the outbreak of the coronavirus - mostly due to travel cancellations of Asian tourists. The situation could be exacerbated by the virus spreading to neighbouring countries.
Last year, 160,00 Chinese tourists visited Slovenia, while Italy is a key market, with 600,000 guests visiting Slovenia a year.
The Slovenian Tourist Board will step up its promotion efforts in nearby countries and it is also hoping to get EU funds for this purpose.
Meanwhile, the Chinese-owned household appliances maker Gorenje said that the situation was under control, but there was some disruption in supplies in China.
Port operator Luka Koper expects to feel the effects of coronavirus in the next two weeks, with its transshipment from or to China accounting for 30% of its total transshipment.
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