Morning Headlines for Slovenia: Wednesday, 1 April 2020

By , 01 Apr 2020, 04:12 AM News
Morning Headlines for Slovenia: Wednesday, 1 April 2020 pexels.com, cottonbro CC-by-0

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This summary is provided by the STA:

Banka Slovenije expects 6-16% GDP contraction in 2020

LJUBLJANA - Slovenia's central bank Banka Slovenije said that the the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the Slovenian economy will likely be higher than in the last global financial crisis. It expects GDP to contract by between 6% and 16%. Publishing a preliminary analysis that does not factor in emerging fiscal and monetary policy measures, Banka Slovenije outlined three possible scenarios. It stressed the impact would be very large in any case, while its gravity would depend on how long containment measures remained in place and on the speed of the recovery after they are lifted.

Four die as number of Covid-19 persons rises by 46 to 802

LJUBLJANA - Slovenia's Covid-19 death toll rose to 15 as four people died on Monday and Tuesday, the latest government figures show. The number of new coronavirus cases increased by 46 to 802 after 1,125 persons were tested on Monday. As many as 119 Covid-19 patients were in hospital, of whom 28 were in intensive care on Monday. The number of persons who have so far been tested for the virus in Slovenia has risen to 22,474. Seven out of 27 Slovenian nationals who were evacuated from Austria on Sunday and placed in quarantine have tested positive for coronavirus, the National Institute of Public Health said.

Govt adopts motion to give police powers to military

LJUBLJANA - The government adopted a motion that, if passed in parliament, will activate a legislative provision that gives the military limited police powers in controlling the border. To be passed, the proposal needs the support of two-thirds of MPs. The National Assembly might discuss it as soon as on Thursday alongside the stimulus measures to help companies and individuals cope with the ongoing coronavirus epidemic. The government said that it would brief the relevant parliamentary bodies about the troops' engagement on the border every two weeks and that the troops would have police powers for a period of three months.

Public health chief thinks latest restrictions not necessary

LJUBLJANA - The latest government-imposed restrictions to curb the spread of coronavirus appear not to have been coordinated with the National Institute for Public Health (NIJZ). Acting NIJZ head Ivan Eržen told the weekly Mladina he saw no reason for the new measures. Eržen believes that the measures, including restricting people's movement to their home municipalities and disinfecting of multi-apartment buildings, are not necessary. Meanwhile, Slovenia decided to uphold the mandatory use of protective face masks in closed public spaces after the World Health Organisation said general use of masks was not recommended. Appearing at a government press conference, paediatrician Tina Bergant stressed that countries in which wearing face masks was more common had managed to contain coronavirus much faster than countries where face masks in public are uncommon.

Annual inflation rate drops to 0.5% in March

LJUBLJANA - Slovenia's annual inflation rate dropped to 0.5% in March from 2% in February. The prices of food, which were up 4.9%, contributed 0.7 of a percentage point to the annual inflation in March, while higher prices of water supply and services related to the dwelling (+9.3%) and higher prices of miscellaneous goods and services (by 4.0%) contributed another 0.3 of a percentage point. On the monthly level, a deflation of 0.8% was recorded mainly due to lower electricity prices, the Statistics Office said.

Slovenia records general government surplus of 0.5% of GDP in 2019

LJUBLJANA - Slovenia recorded a general government surplus of EUR 260 million or 0.5% of GDP in 2019 after already posting a EUR 330 million surplus in 2018. Expenditure growth, at 5.2%, was higher than revenue growth, at 4.8%. Consolidated debt decreased by EUR 479 million to EUR 31.7 billion or 66.1% of GDP. The Statistics Office said that compared to 2018, when revenue growth was 7.1%, the slowing of GDP growth in what were still favourable economic conditions affected revenue last year, while they also noted a significant decrease in revenue from profits in fully or partly state-owned companies.

Public health fund ends 2019 with over EUR 50m in surplus

LJUBLJANA - The sixth consecutive year of Slovenia's economic growth also reflected in higher revenue of the national public health fund, which had EUR 213 million more in its 2019 budget than the year before and finished the year with a surplus of EUR 50.6 million, according to its business report. But despite the surplus and EUR 16.8 million set aside for reserve, the Institute of Health Insurance (ZZZS) could not fully pay all the current services provided by medical organisations because the National Assembly limited its 2019 spending and the services could only be paid out in 2020.

Stimulus package in parliament no earlier than Thursday

LJUBLJANA - The parliamentary Finance Committee started discussing the new stimulus package to mitigate the impact of coronavirus, suspending the debate and postponing the plenary planned for Wednesday by at least a day. Meanwhile, Equal Opportunities Ombudsman Miha Lobnik called on the government to give special attention to protecting and assisting vulnerable groups in its next legislative package, especially the disabled, Roma, homeless and single parents. The Slovenian Olympic Committee (OKS) welcomed the proposed fiscal stimulus package, but noted that sports organisations in Slovenia had so far recorded a drop in expected revenue of more than EUR 25 million. A survey has also shown that around 800 full-time jobs in the sport industry are at risk.

Two additional border crossings opening on Slovenian-Hungarian border

LJUBLJANA - Foreign Minister Anže Logar and his Hungarian counterpart Peter Szijjarto agreed that two additional border crossings will open on the Slovenian-Hungarian border, Hodoš-Bajansenye and Čepinci-Verica (Ketvölgy), the Foreign Ministry said. Logar and Szijjarto agreed over the phone that they will respond to initiatives from both sides of the border and make life easier for the people. The Čepinci-Verica (Ketvölgy) border crossing in particular is very important for the Slovenian community in the Hungarian region of Porabje, being its only link to Slovenia now that all other road connections with the country are closed.

Hisense with major donation of medical equipment for Slovenia

LJUBLJANA - Slovenian civil defence received a donation of protective and medical equipment from Hisense, the Chinese owner of the Velenje-based household appliance maker Gorenje, which includes 200,000 protective masks and 2,000 hazmat suits. Also donated by Hisense are 500 respirators, protective goggles and a medical ventilator, while the company has also mediated in an agreement to supply 46 ventilators to Slovenia, Gorenje said.

Plečnik Stadium among most endangered heritage sites in Europe

LJUBLJANA - The pan-European Europa Nostra organisation released a list of seven most endangered European cultural heritage sites for 2020, with a stadium designed by acclaimed architect Jože Plečnik also making the list. One of Ljubljana's top landmarks has been in a dilapidated state for a decade. Being declared one of the most endangered sites in Europe might give fresh impetus to the cause though. Europa Nostra and EIB Institute representatives plan to visit the seven sites and meet key shareholders to discuss the respective situations.

Slovenian poem Zdravljica receives European Heritage Label

LJUBLJANA - Zdravljica, a poem written in the 1840s by Slovenia's France Prešeren to celebrates peace, freedom and fraternity, was awarded the European Heritage Label by the European Commission alongside nine other pieces of heritage which testify about European ideals, values, history and integration. The seventh stanza of Zdravljica, or A Toast in English, set to music by Stanko Premrl in 1905, was chosen to be Slovenia's national anthem in 1990.

Three Slovenian researchers win prestigious EU grants

LJUBLJANA - Three researchers from the Jožef Stefan Institute (IJS) and the National Institute of Chemistry have won over seven million euro in European Research Council (ERC) grants for their research projects in physics and biomedicine. The Slovenian projects winning the ERC Advanced Grant 2019 will be led by senior researchers Peter Križan and Igor Muševič, both from the ISJ, and Matej Praprotnik from the Chemistry Institute.

Motorway operator's net profit down almost 10% last year

LJUBLJANA - DARS, the state-owned operator of Slovenia's motorway network, generated EUR 480.75 million in revenue last year, or 3.3% more than in 2018, but its net profit was down by 9.5% to EUR 139.61 million, shows its unaudited annual report. The toll collected represented the bulk of the total revenue, standing at 466.61 million, or 3% more than in 2018, while write-offs represented the highest share in expenses, increasing by 17% to EUR 211 million. Expenses related to financial obligations were down by 6% to EUR 37.5 million, costs of goods, material and services were up by almost 6% to EUR 50.38 million, and labour costs were up by 11% to EUR 45.24 million.

Unior group revenue up, profit down last year

LJUBLJANA - Tool maker group Unior saw its revenue rise by 3% to EUR 256 million last year, continuing a multi-year trend. Net profit dropped by 14% to EUR 10.4 million. EBITDA rose by almost 6% to EUR 32 million, while EBIT was up from EUR 15 million to EUR 16 million. The group's operations were marked by unpredictable and changeable economic growth, which mostly affected the operations of its forging plants in Croatia and China, which failed to reach their targets and posted worse results than in 2018.

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