Morning Headlines, Tuesday March 26, 2019

By , 26 Mar 2019, 09:05 AM News
Morning Headlines, Tuesday March 26, 2019 pixabay meineresterampe CC-by-0

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STA - Below is a roundup of major events on Monday, 25 March:

Minister nominee Šabeder to strive for accessible, quality healthcare

LJUBLJANA - The nominee for health minister, Aleš Šabeder, stressed in his presentation at the Health Committee in parliament that citizens must be provided with accessible and quality public health services. The current director of the UKC Ljubljana hospital announced a systematic approach to cut waiting times and red tape, and an overhaul of the healthcare and health insurance act. MPs had several questions for him, mostly to do with supplementary insurance and problems in primary healthcare, but due to the abundance of questions the hearing will continue on Tuesday. If appointed, Šabeder will replace Samo Fakin, who resigned at the beginning of March for health reasons.

Zajc pledges to resume work set out by Environment Ministry

LJUBLJANA - Simon Zajc pledged to complete the work set out by his predecessor at the Ministry of the Environment and Spatial Planning in his hearing on the parliamentary committee in charge of the environment. He listed updates to construction and housing laws, a reform of water law and tackling the waste management as his priorities. Zajc, who is serving as one of the two state secretaries at the ministry and was nominated to replace his boss Jure Leben as minister, told the MPs the ministry would have to keep up the pace and the manner of work set out under Leben's guide. He is expected to be appointed minister on Wednesday after being backed in a 10:5 vote in today's hearing.

PM in acrimonious exchange with MP over Strasbourg address

LJUBLJANA - The National Assembly witnessed an acrimonious exchange between PM Marjan Šarec and opposition New Slovenia (NSi) MP Ljudmila Novak over his decision to pass on the invitation to address the European Parliament. While Novak, a former MEP, said that Šarec had missed an opportunity to set out his vision of the EU's future, the prime minister said he did not believe she had raised the issue in good faith, but rather as part of the campaign for the EU elections in which she stands herself as the NSi frontrunner herself. He said he did not regret his decision after Antonio Tajani's latest comments about Mussolini.

PM says real pension reform still in the making

LJUBLJANA - PM Marjan Šarec told MPs in questions time that the package of legislative changes to the pension system presented by the government recently addressed only the most burning issues, while a real reform was yet to be drawn up at a later stage. "These proposals are aimed at prolonging the years of service on the one hand and improving the social status of all those eligible for pension and disability insurance funds on the other," he said, arguing these would suffice for now.

Home minister says police managing situation on border

LJUBLJANA - Interior Minister Boštjan Poklukar assured MPs in questions time Slovenia was successfully managing migrations on the border with Croatia and protecting the Schengen border despite a renewed jump in illegal migrations. The latest data by police for January and February show a total of 611 illegal crossings of the border were recorded in Slovenia, up 35% compared to the same period last year. But the trend appears to have accelerated in March, with Poklukar saying 746 attempts to cross the border illegally had been recorded between 1 and 21 March. "It is true, attempts to cross the border illegally are increasing, partially due to the fact that the winter has been green ... which made it easier to cross the border."

Govt ratings down as scandals bite

LJUBLJANA - The government's approval rating appears to be eroding fast after the fourth cabinet resignation in six months. Having peaked in January at almost 63% and then dropping to 56% in February, it declined to 52.4% in the latest poll commissioned by POP TV. Over 36% said they disapproved of its performance, up four points over the previous month, while 11% were undecided, showed the poll, conducted by Mediana and released on Sunday evening. The declining approval rating was mirrored in the support for government parties, with the ruling Marjan Šarec List (LMŠ) losing four percentage points to 16.6%.

Cerar meets minority reps from Austria

LJUBLJANA - Foreign Minister Miro Cerar met representatives of the Slovenian minority from Austria as part of preparations for a session of the Slovenia-Carinthia Committee in Slovenia on Friday, which will also be attended by Carinthian Governor Peter Kaiser. The presidents of the umbrella minority organisations outlined the open issues which Cerar is expected to raise, pointing to the need to fully implement a memorandum from 2011 regarding bilingual place names in Carinthia. Cerar said more funding was needed for Slovenians not only in Carinthia but also Styria, chiefly for minority education and for the Slovenian weekly Novice.

Gorenje ends 2018 in the red, revenue down 1.7%

VELENJE - Household appliance maker Gorenje, which was taken over by China's Hisense last year, reported EUR 1.184bn in group sales revenue for 2018, a 1.7% drop on 2017. After ending 2017 in the black, Gorenje recorded a EUR 37.3m net loss in 2018, or EUR 111.2m when factoring in one-off and extraordinary events. EBITDA fell by 53.5% to EUR 29.6m and EBIT was EUR 28.2m in the negative after a EUR 12.1m plus had still been recorded in 2017. The company earmarked 2.5% of total revenue or EUR 30m for investment.

Slovenian, Macedonian economy ministers discuss economic ties

LJUBLJANA - Minister of Economic Development and Technology Zdravko Počivalšek and his Macedonian counterpart Kreshnik Bekteshi shared a view that bilateral economic relations were good, but called for further improving them, as they met in Ljubljana. "Trade in goods between the two countries reached EUR 307m in 2018, up 6% on 2017. The growth trend has also been recorded in services," Počivalšek was quoted as saying in his ministry's release. Bekteshi meanwhile noted that NATO's door opening for his country had brought stability and security, which facilitated a record growth in investment, topping EUR 624m.

Business sentiment flat in March, worsens y/y

LJUBLJANA - Business sentiment in Slovenia remained at 9.1 percentage points in March, level with February, but declined by 3.2 points from March 2018, the Statistics Office reported. The monthly trend was affected positively by a 0.4-point boost in the confidence indicators in manufacturing and retail. However, the overall indicator was kept down by a dampening in the services sector (-0.6 pp), among consumers (-0.2 pp) and in construction (-0.1 pp). Confidence in retail increased by one percentage point year-on-year.

Home prices in Slovenia up 18% in 2018

LJUBLJANA - Prices of residential properties in Slovenia rose by 18.2% last year, driven by a 19.8% growth in the prices of second-hand homes, according to a report by the Statistics Office. The number of transactions decreased by 14% to 9,421 from the 2017 peak. The number of transactions in new apartments remained low for the second year running. In the final quarter of 2018, prices of existing family houses increased the most, by as much as 38.6% compared to the same quarter a year ago.

Investment in digital ads expected to rise by 25% this year

LJUBLJANA - Advertisers in Slovenia will increase investment into digital advertising by 25% this year, spending an average of EUR 290,000 on it, suggests a survey carried out by the digital agency Iprom and pollster Valicon. Iprom said that 68% of the 214 surveyed decision-makers on the Slovenian advertising and marketing scene said they would increase the budget for digital advertising this year, while 29% said they would leave it on a par with last year's. The service sector will spend the most on digital advertising, EUR 352,000 on average, followed by the retail (EUR 291,000) and tourism sectors (EUR 233,000).

Petrol prices up significantly, diesel cheaper

LJUBLJANA - Regular petrol sold at service stations outside the Slovenian motorway network will be significantly more expensive on Tuesday and cost more than diesel for the first time since last October, the Economy Ministry said. Regular will cost EUR 1.295 per litre, up 2.9 cents and the highest it has been since November, whereas the price of diesel will go down by 1.1 cents to EUR 1.258.

Slovenia draw against North Macedonia in Euro 2020 qualifier

LJUBLJANA - The Slovenian national football team played North Macedonia on Sunday to record the second draw in as many games in the Euro 2020 qualifiers. Like in Thursday's match against Israel, Slovenia squandered a 1:0 lead for a final score of 1:1 (1:0). Slovenia, who are playing again under one of the most successful Slovenian national team coaches, Matjaž Kek, looked a much better team again than in recent years, but individual mistakes spoiled matters a little. The next qualifiers await Slovenia on 7 and 10 June in Austria and Latvia, respectively.

Exhibition on Hiroshima and Nagasaki opens in Ljubljana

LJUBLJANA - Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Pain and Courage, an exhibition dedicated to the victims of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, opened at the National Museum of Contemporary History. The exhibition of the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum, put on in cooperation with the Slovenian PEN Centre ahead of the 51st International PEN meeting, is meant to raise awareness about the danger of nuclear armament. It will run until 20 April.

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