Morning Headlines for Slovenia: Friday, 15 May 2020

By , 15 May 2020, 04:44 AM News
Morning Headlines for Slovenia: Friday, 15 May 2020 Flickr - Seika CC by 2.0

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This summary is provided by the STA:

PM Janša indicates formal end of epidemic near

LJUBLJANA - Prime Minister Janez Janša indicated in parliament the government could soon declare the coronavirus epidemic over, having brought the situation under control in the two months since it took office. "Slovenia has contained the epidemic. Today it has the best epidemiological status in Europe," he said, adding that the epidemic could formally be declared ended at a time which will "probably coincide with the date of the expiry of the first two anti-corona packages", that is the end of May.

Janša denies wrongdoing in PPE purchases

LJUBLJANA - Prime Minister Janez Janša dismissed allegations of government misconduct in the purchasing of personal protective equipment as he delivered the opening address in a parliamentary debate on a government report on PPE purchases. He argued that quick action saved dozens of lives after the government was faced with empty stockpiles of protective gear when it took office a day after the epidemic was declared. He also said the government made all contracts public.

Just one new coronavirus infection, no new deaths

LJUBLJANA - Only one out of 984 tests for the novel coronavirus conducted in Slovenia on Wednesday came back positive, raising the total of cases confirmed so far to 1,464. No new fatalities have been reported, leaving the death toll unchanged at 103. Only 32 patients diagnosed with Covid-19 remain in hospitals, according to government data as of midnight, after seven more were discharged yesterday. Seven remain in intensive care.

Janša talks with von der Leyen, Stoltenberg

LJUBLJANA - Prime Minister Janez Janša had separate conversations with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, focussing on responses to the Covid-19 pandemic. According to a tweet posted by Janša, he and von der Leyen had a constructive discussion on the EU's new budget proposal and on a new recovery fund. The conversation with Stoltenberg centred "on the priorities of the alliance, our common missions around the world and on unfulfilled promises given by the previous government and Slovenia's plans to strengthen its defence capability and credibility", Janša tweeted.

President talks coronavirus pandemic with Georgian counterpart

LJUBLJANA - President Borut Pahor talked with his Georgian counterpart Salome Zourabichvili over the phone, discussing the novel coronavirus pandemic. Both presidents expressed the view that their respective countries are dealing well with the pandemic. They agreed that a great level of caution will be needed in the future so as to avoid more breakouts, Pahor's office said in a press release. The presidents also share the view that the economic and social consequences of the health crisis will be a great challenge.

Central bank gets adverse opinion from Court of Audit

LJUBLJANA - The Court of Audit found a series of violations at Slovenia's central bank between 2017 in 2018, releasing an adverse opinion in what is its first audit of Banka Slovenije. While the court is yet to complete a review of the banking regulator's supervisory role prior and during the bailout of banks in 2013-14, a scrutiny of the operations in 2017-18 showed the central bank flouted regulations on hirings, employments, severance packages and public procurement. Unofficially, the court took issue with EUR 76,000 severance package paid to former governor Boštjan Jazbec as he resigned in March 2018.

NLB bank's net profit down by 68% y/y in Q1 to EUR 18.3m

LJUBLJANA - NLB generated EUR 18.3 million in net profit at group level in the first quarter, a 68% year-on-year decrease that Slovenia's largest bank said was the result of credit impairments and provisions formed due to the coronavirus epidemic. Net interest income decreased by 3% to EUR 77.4 million, "mainly due to higher interest expenses resulting from new Tier 2 instruments issued by the bank, which was partly compensated for by increased loan volumes", said NLB's business report. Meanwhile, the European Central Bank cleared Petr Brunclik as a new member of the NLB management.

Telekom Slovenije reports 12% higher Q1 profit on lower sales

LJUBLJANA - Telecoms group Telekom Slovenije saw its net profit rise by 12% year-on-year to EUR 11.3 million in the first quarter of the year, as sales dropped by 2% to EUR 168.6 million. Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization were flat at EUR 56.4 million, and earnings before interest, taxes rose by 23% to EUR 14.5 million. The company saw a surge in online and mobile traffic and sales since the coronavirus epidemic was declared in Slovenia in mid-March.

Triglav Group Q1 pre-tax profit down 12% to EUR 26.5m

LJUBLJANA - Slovenia's leading insurance group, Triglav, reported EUR 26.4 million in pre-tax profit for the first quarter, a 12% year-on-year decrease that it primarily ascribes to several disaster events. The group posted a total of EUR 348.9 million in consolidated gross written premium, up 10% relative to the same period last year. "Major CAT events in the first quarter of the year - an earthquake in Zagreb and hailstorms in Slovenia - decreased year-on-year quarterly profit," the company said, while adding the pandemic had reduced the value of financial investment.

Opposition wants debate on foreign minister's letter on judiciary

LJUBLJANA - The Marjan Šarec List (LMŠ), Social Democrats (SD), Left, and Alenka Bratušek Party (SAB) asked for the foreign policy and judiciary committees to discuss what they consider Foreign Minister Anže Logar's contentious letter on the judiciary sent to the EU, as well as Prime Minister Janez Janša's letter entitled War against the Media. In a letter accompanying the Slovenian report on the rule of law in the country, Logar presented a critical view of some aspects of the Slovenian judiciary.

DeSUS demands govt tend to its priorities, not happy with ideological topics

LJUBLJANA - The executive committee of the coalition Pensioners' Party (DeSUS) issued a demand that the government start working on DeSUS's priorities. Highlighting the priority coalition agreement commitments for DeSUS, the party demands that a task force be formed to draw up the act forming a demographic fund, a pension support fund in which state assets would be pooled to help finance public pensions. Party head Aleksandra Pivec said the party was united and that the dismissal of its secretary general was a part of a staffing reshuffle.

Jaklitsch talks economic cooperation with Slovenian minority in Austria, Italy

LJUBLJANA/KLAGENFURT, Austria/TRIESTE, Italy - The need to nurture cross-border cooperation and the economy in the border regions was highlighted in a video-call featuring Minister for Slovenians Abroad Helena Jaklitsch and representatives of Slovenian business in Austria and Italy. Current activities, in particular those related to challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic, were presented, including efforts to deal with the impact on cross-border economic activities, the government's Office for Slovenians Abroad said.

Minority in Austria critical of state on independence treaty anniversary

KLAGENFURT, Austria - Marking the 65th anniversary of the Austrian State Treaty, the Slovenian Consensus for Constitutional Rights (SKUP), a political group of the Slovenian minority in Austria, as well as the Community of Carinthian Slovenians (SKS), one of the minority's key organisations, warned that the minority's rights were not completely implemented. SKUP highlighted that the Austrian government had been ignoring proposals regarding bilingual education, and should step up its efforts to secure equality of the Slovenian language as an official language in the Carinthian region as well as funds for the minority.

Slovenia sending PPE and disinfectants to Italy

LJUBLJANA - The government decided to send to Italy EUR 92,000 worth of disinfectants. Moreover, Slovenia will also send protective suits to Friuli Venezia Giulia. The government said in a press release that the aid will be sent to Italy through the EU's civil protection mechanism to fight the coronavirus pandemic. The protective suits, worth EUR 5,600, will be sent to Friuli Venezia Giulia following a bilateral request.

Major LGBTI study finds discrimination still rampant

BRUSSELS, Belgium - A major new EU study has found that lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual and intersex (LGBTI) persons are increasingly open about their sexual identity, but they still face intimidation, violence and discrimination in everyday life. In Slovenia, the situation appears to be improving, with 55% saying that prejudice and intolerance to LBGTI persons decreased in the last five years, compared to 40% providing the same assessment in the EU on average.

Slovenians ever less worried about epidemic, survey shows

LJUBLJANA - Slovenians are becoming ever less worried about the coronavirus epidemic, the most recent survey by the pollster Valicon showed. At the end of March, 82% of respondents said they were worried about the epidemic, but now the share has dropped to 52%. In terms of measures imposed by the government, 47% of respondents find them appropriate, while 42% believe they are too strict. On the other hand, 11% worry that they are not strict enough. The respondents' opinion about the strictness of the measures has been changing through the epidemic. In late March, 57% of the respondents found them appropriate, while only 6% said they were too strict, while as many as 37% said measures were not strict enough.

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