Morning Headlines for Slovenia: Friday, 15 July 2022

By , 15 Jul 2022, 05:59 AM News
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Check the date at the top of the page, and you can find all the "morning headlines" stories here. You can also follow us on Facebook and get all the news in your feed.

This summary is provided by the STA:

Electricity prices for households, small business capped as of September

LJUBLJANA - Electricity prices for households and small and medium-sized companies will be capped from 1 September to August 2023, and households will pay between 15% and 60% less for electricity than now, depending on provider, Infrastructure Minister Bojan Kumer told the press after the cabinet session. Prices will be kept low through a combination of lower duties and measures that will reduce the profits of power generation companies, according to Kumer. The excise fee on electricity will remain at 50% of the headline level, whereas the contribution for renewable sources will be cut in half come September.

Brussels projects sharp slowdown for Slovenia in 2023

BRUSSELS, Belgium - The European Commission upgraded its forecast for Slovenia's GDP growth from 3.7% to 5.4% for this year, but it expects growth to slow down sharply to just 1% in 2023 compared to its earlier projection of 3.1%. Slovenia is expected to enjoy the second highest growth rate in the EU after Portugal this year based on a strong carry-on effect from last year. Next year the growth rate is expected to be among the third lowest in the EU behind Sweden and Italy, and even below the eurozone average of 1.4%.

PM appeals for cross-partisan unity to address cost-of-living crisis

LJUBLJANA - PM Robert Golob appealed for political unity as he set out his government's plans to ensure energy and food security and address rising prices and inflation in parliament. The government plans to double strategic food reserves and replenish fuel reserves, as it declared level 1 threat with respect to electricity production. The purpose of the latter decision is to "increase strategic fuel stocks in the power industry, of all fuels, from oil products, to gas and coal." The infrastructure minister was tasked to work together with the transmission and distribution system operators to prepare preventive and preparatory measures for the implementation of crisis scenarios of electricity supply.

Bill passed to reduce wait times in healthcare

LJUBLJANA - Parliament passed an emergency bill designed to tackle long wait times for health services by securing more money and prepare the system for a more sweeping reform that is to follow. It lifts the cap on the value and number of services that the public health insurer pays in a given year. Health Minister Danijel Bešič Loredan says that all the services that are provided will be paid for. Roughly EUR 200 million is currently budgeted but the figure could rise further. The bill exposed a fault-line between the Left and the rest of the ruling coalition as the former is worried the law could undermine public healthcare.

Parliament ratifies Sweden and Finland's bids to join NATO

LJUBLJANA - The National Assembly endorsed the bill ratifying the NATO accession protocols for Finland and Sweden. Only the coalition Left reiterated its opposition to NATO enlargement and advocacy of Slovenia's quitting the alliance, voting against. Addressing the MPs before the vote, PM Robert Golob urged them to ratify the accession protocols unanimously, saying Finland and Sweden's decision to join NATO was "historic". The accession to NATO of the countries that were neutral for decades or centuries is, he said, a direct consequence of Russia's aggression against Ukraine.

Parliament ratifies Slovenia-Italy accord on gas supply

LJUBLJANA - The National Assembly unanimously ratified an agreement between Slovenia and Italy on solidarity measures to safeguard the security of gas supply under which Slovenia can ask Italy to supply gas to protected customers in the event of supply disruptions, and vice versa. The mechanism is activated after a country has carried out all measures on its territory to supply gas to protected customers and once all unprotected customers have been cut off. Protected customers include households, healthcare and educational institutions, and providers of social services, according to Slovenia's energy act.

MPs pass omnibus act repealing previous govt's dozen laws

LJUBLJANA - The MPs passed an omnibus act filed to parliament with voter signatures to change eleven laws passed under the previous government that the 8 March Institute NGO deemed harmful to equality, human rights and the rule of law. The act restores the legislation to the state before it was amended by the Janez Janša government either in fast-track procedures or without consulting experts. The opposition Democrats (SDS) plans to challenge the act, which has enjoyed the support of the parties that formed the new government after the 24 April election since it was presented this spring, at the Constitutional Court.

MPs pass changes to RTV Slovenija act

LJUBLJANA - The National Assembly passed in 53:26 vote changes to the act on RTV Slovenija with which the government would like to reduce what it sees as the influence of politics on the public broadcaster. The changes come after RTV journalists recently went on strike twice demanding editorial autonomy. Under the changes, the existing programming council and the supervisory board will be replaced with a single council with 17 members in which more power would be given to the civil society and staff.

Government adopts legislation transposing GDPR

LJUBLJANA - The government adopted a bill on personal data protection that aims to transpose the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) into Slovenia's legislation. The Ministry of Justice said after the government session that new legislation was needed because the GDPR brought substantial changes to personal data protection and had replaced much of the national provisions in the field. The Information Commissioner welcomed the move, noting that Slovenia remains the only EU member state that failed to draft new legislation following the GDPR. The cost of the implementation is estimated at EUR 100,000 in 2023 and 2024.

Act on alternative investment funds passed

LJUBLJANA - The National Assembly passed an act on forms of alternative investment funds that provides for three forms and two types of funds. The long-awaited legislation, with which the state wants to strengthen the capital market, is one of the milestones for the payment of the first instalment from the Covid recovery mechanism. Such legislation is one of the measures from this reform and also a condition that the state must fulfil in order to draw the first instalment of grants the amount of EUR 57 million. It has also been the wish repeatedly expressed by the financial sector.

Govt abolishes Demography Office, postpones long-term care act

LJUBLJANA - The government decided to abolish the Demography Office, whose powers will be transferred to the Ministry of Labour, Family, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities. The abolishment was proposed because the office's purview overlaps with that of the ministry, which will hire the office's staff, take over documents and the funding earmarked for the office. The government also postponed the entry into force of the act on long-term care from the start of 2023 to April 2024, so that it could amend it.

Vraničar Erman again appointed high representative for succession

LJUBLJANA - Mateja Vraničar Erman, the ex-finance minister, was re-appointed as Slovenia's high representative for succession to the former Yugoslavia after she was dismissed from the post in March 2021 by the previous government. She is replacing international law expert Miha Pogačnik. Vraničar Erman held the office between 18 June 2019 and 18 March 2021, while she served as finance minister under the Miro Cerar government between September 2016 and September 2018. The country's first and longest serving high representative was Rudi Gabrovec, who served twice - in 2001-2005 and 2009-2014.

Viršek back at the helm of radwaste agency ARAO

LJUBLJANA - The government appointed Sandi Viršek the director of the Radioactive Waste Agency (ARAO), which is in charge of construction of a EUR 194 million storage facility for waste from the Krško N-plant, for a four-year term starting on 15 July with the option of re-appointment. Viršek headed the agency before, until 29 March this year, when his term expired and the previous government appointed Petra Grajžl as interim director. The previous government was critical of Viršek for his failure to meet the obligations regarding the construction of low- and intermediate-level rad waste facility at Vrbina near Krško by 2023.

Lek employees' wages miscalculated for the last 20 years

LJUBLJANA - Pharmaceutical company Lek confirmed reports it has discovered an error in its calculations of wages which led to its staff being underpaid in the last 20 years by a combined total of about EUR 100 million. The company said it would reimburse all current and former employees for the last five years with default interest for the last three years, the minimum required by law, despite appeals by trade unions for more money. The error was discovered when the company switched payroll accounting providers and the new provider carried out a due diligence with an audit.

Wednesday's Covid-19 count up 6% w/w

LJUBLJANA - A further 1,738 people tested positive for coronavirus in Slovenia on Wednesday, an increase of 6% from the same day a week ago. The seven-day average of cases is now at 1,379, up by 17 from the day before and up 295 in a week. The 14-day incidence per 100,000 population rose by 35 and 216, respectively, to 822. Hospitalisations rose by 12 to 66 in a week, with ICU cases down by one to seven. While the figures indicate the spread may be slowing, Nuška Čakš Jager, deputy head of the communicable diseases centre with the NIJZ, said that infections were likely to keep rising for another four weeks.

Slovenia to send EUR 36,000 in demining equipment to Ukraine

LJUBLJANA - In line with Ukraine's request for international assistance through the EU's civil protection mechanism, the government confirmed material assistance to Ukraine in the form of demining equipment, which is valued at EUR 36,140, including transport. Slovenia will send to Ukraine ten metal detectors, protective bulletproof vests, protective visors and collapsible metal shovels that can be worn on a belt, the Government Communication Office (UKOM) said.

Govt revokes Slovenia's withdrawal from Forum of Slavic Cultures

LJUBLJANA - The government annulled the decision of the previous, Janez Janša government for Slovenia to withdraw from membership in the Forum of Slavic Cultures (FSC), which was taken on 21 April, three days ahead of the general election. The government argued that the opinion of the Government Office for Legislation against the decision had been disregarded. What is more, the points of the operative part of the decision, taken three days ahead of the general election, are legally and formally inadequate, as they are not in line with the material regulations, the government said in a press release.

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