Morning Headlines for Slovenia: Saturday, 30 May 2020

By , 30 May 2020, 07:09 AM News
Morning Headlines for Slovenia: Saturday, 30 May 2020 JL Flanner

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This summary is provided by the STA:

Third stimulus package passed

LJUBLJANA - The National Assembly passed the third economic stimulus package to help revive the economy, valued at roughly a billion euro. The centrepiece is a subsidised short-time work scheme for all employers until the end of the year. Companies unable to provide at least 90% of the workload for at least 10% of their workers will be eligible. Another measure is a one-month extension of the existing furlough scheme until the end of June for all employers. All Slovenian permanent residents will also get vouchers to spend on tourist accommodation in Slovenia, EUR 200 for adults and and EUR 50 for minors. The bill also brings financial incentives in the form of grants and loans for small companies, and relaxes conditions to obtain a state incentive for an investment.

Parliament passes legislation to accelerate major investments

LJUBLJANA - The National Assembly passed an emergency law aimed at accelerating major investments to help the economy, which has been strongly affected by the coronavirus epidemic. The government will draw up a list of 50-odd investments which will be handled as a matter of priority by the relevant state bodies granting construction permits and other approvals. Procedures will be coordinated by a newly-founded taskforce. The law also implements EU guidelines aimed at shielding bidders from EU countries from unfair competition from third countries.

MPs back guarantees for SURE scheme

LJUBLJANA - The National Assembly endorsed a bill under which Slovenia will support the EU SURE instrument to mitigate unemployment risks across the EU with up to EUR 88.1 million in loan guarantees. Designed to mitigate the coronavirus pandemic's massive negative impact on the European jobs market, the SURE scheme will make up to EUR 100 billion in loans available, supported by EUR 25 billion in guarantees from EU members. The instrument, in which Finance Minister Andrej Šircelj says Slovenia expects to secure around EUR 900 million in loans.

Slovenia's GDP contracted by 2.3% in Q1 y/y

LJUBLJANA - Slovenia's GDP decreased by a slower-than-expected 2.3% in the first three months of 2020 year-on-year due to a slowdown in domestic consumption and external demand. Seasonally- and working days-adjusted GDP contracted by 4.5% compared to the last quarter of 2019 and by 3.4% year-on-year. The first quarter, which was already affected by the coronavirus pandemic, in particular after the outbreak in Europe in March, saw domestic expenditure decline by 3.1%. Commenting on the data, Slovenia's central bank said it was already clear some activities would take a long time to recover, while IMAD, the government's macroeconomic forecaster, expects the economy to contract even more sharply in the second quarter.

President proposes Teršek, Zobec for one vacancy at top court

LJUBLJANA - President Borut Pahor proposed that the National Assembly take a vote on Barbara Zobec and Andraž Teršek for one vacancy on the Constitutional Court, as the nine-year term of Dunja Jadek Pensa runs out on 14 July. Zobec, who has the endorsement of the senior coalition Democrats (SDS), has been a judge at the Supreme Court's criminal department since 2002. She also teaches at the Catholic Institute's Faculty of Law and Business Studies, which cites the mass executions during and after WWII as her major research interest. Teršek is a constitutional jurist and a law philosopher known for his outspoken views. He teaches at the University of Primorska and at the European Faculty of Law.

Coalition keen on cross-partisan pact, opposition reserved

LJUBLJANA - A cross-partisan partnership agreement on key legislation proposed by Prime Minister Janez Janša is seen in the coalition as a means of bridging divides. The centre-left opposition parties rejected the offer although the Alenka Bratušek Party (SAB) said they may consider joining assuming the coalition backs their proposals; only the populist National Party (SMS) said it would sign up to "help the country". The most scathing criticism came from Marjan Šarec, the former prime minister, who said that he was first accused by Janša of being culpable for fatalities due to inaction in the early stages of the coronavirus epidemic, but now Janša would like to cooperate.

Sixth straight week of bicycle protests

LJUBLJANA - Several thousand people flooded the streets of the capital Ljubljana for what is the sixth Friday in a row that protesters, most of them on bicycles, expressed opposition to government policies. Smaller crowds also gathered in other cities around the country. The nexus of the protest is the square in front of Parliament House and the adjacent streets, where the government, the president of the republic and several ministries are seated. Many protesters were wearing banners targeting specific government policies, including its perceived crackdown on environmental NGOs, neglect of the arts, and irregularities in the purchase of personal protective equipment.

Passenger air travel resumes at Ljubljana airport

LJUBLJANA - After two months and a half of severe air traffic restrictions due to the Covid-19 pandemic, regular passenger transport services resumed at Ljubljana airport today. The first flight was operated by Air Serbia. The airport expects most airlines to return by early July. The relaunch of regular services will take place in three parts: by 15 June, the airport expects to see the return of Lufthansa, Montenegro Airlines and a Polish carrier; by the end of June, Swiss Air, Air Brussels, Transavio and British Airways; and after 1 July, other airlines.

Masks remain mandatory in certain circumstances

LJUBLJANA - There has been some confusion about whether face masks are still mandatory in Slovenia, but the government cleared up the confusion by adopting a decree which determines face masks must be worn in indoor public spaces in certain circumstances beyond the formal end of the epidemic on 31 May. Face masks are thus mandatory in closed public spaces where the distance between persons is less than 1.5 metres, on public transportation, for persons with respiratory diseases, for health staff depending on the degree of risk, for all staff of care homes, and for visitors entering health institutions and care homes.

No new coronavirus infections, no new fatalities on Thursday

LJUBLJANA - No new coronavirus infections were confirmed in Slovenia on Thursday after 702 more tests were conducted, while there were also no new deaths for the third consecutive day, show the latest official data. This means the number of confirmed infections remains at 1,473 and the national death toll at 108. Thursday's clean bill as regards the number of new cases comes after two days when the daily case count exceeded one following a two-week period of zero or one infection per day.

Employment figures for Q1 not yet showing impact of epidemic

LJUBLJANA - The Slovenian labour market was in a good shape in the first quarter of the year despite the lockdown measures related to the coronavirus epidemic kicking in in the second half of March. The survey unemployment rate was at 4.6%, or only 0.3 of a percentage point lower than in the same period last year. The survey-based unemployment figure in the first quarter was at 47,000, 5.7% down from the same period last year. The structure was almost balanced gender-wise.

Slovenia interested in strengthening cooperation with Norway

LJUBLJANA - Foreign Minister Anže Logar underlined good relations between Slovenia and Norway in a phone conversation with his Norwegian counterpart Ine Eriksen Soreide as well as Slovenia's interest in further strengthening economic cooperation with Norway. The ministers lauded good relations between the two countries, which are also NATO partners and share a number of views on European and multilateral issues, according to the Foreign Ministry.

State secretary discussing border reopening and migration in Croatia

ZAGREB, Croatia - Interior Ministry State Secretary Franc Kangler met his Croatian counterpart Terezija Gras. The pair discussed cooperation in the fight against illegal migration, the situation on the Slovenian-Croatian border in the wake of the coronavirus crisis, and Croatia's preparations for entering the Schengen area. Kangler informed Gras of "certain measures" aiming to curb illegal migration that Slovenia will implement at the border region at the beginning of June.

Slovenian, Croatian MEPs appeal to von der Leyen for fair border reopening

LJUBLJANA - Austria's decision to omit Slovenia and Croatia from the list of countries whose citizens will be able to enter Austria without restrictions in mid-June is not in line with the EU's recovery plan or the bloc's basic standards, three MEPs from Slovenia and Croatia said in a letter addressed to EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen. MEPs from the liberal political group Renew, Slovenia's Irena Joveva and Klemen Grošelj (Renew/LMŠ), and Croatia's Valter Flego (Renew/IDS), wrote on Friday that they hoped the European Commission would react to Austria's announcement.

Minority reps discuss return of National Hall with Trieste mayor

TRIESTE, Italy - The presidents of both main organisations of Slovenians in Italy and Slovenia's consul general in Trieste, Vojko Volk, held a meeting with Trieste Mayor Roberto Dipiazza to discuss the upcoming centenary of the arson of the Trieste National Hall by the Fascists, and the return of the building to the Slovenian community. They expressed support for efforts to return the building and joy that presidents Borut Pahor and Sergio Mattarella will visit Trieste that day, Consulate General said.

Slovenians free to enter Greece without restrictions after 15 June

ATHENS, Greece - Greece released a list of 29 countries, among them Slovenia, whose citizens and residents will be able to enter the country after 15 June without having to go into quarantine. The Greek Embassy in Slovenia said the incoming persons would be randomly swabbed and tested for Covid-19. Apart from Slovenia, the list also includes Germany, Austria, Croatia, China and Japan.

Annual deflation remains at 1.2% in May

LJUBLJANA - Cheaper oil kept Slovenia's consumer prices down in May with the annual deflation rate running at 1.2%, flat with the month before, despite a 9% monthly hike in consumer prices, data from the Statistics Office show. Year-on-year goods prices dropped by 2.9%, while prices of services rose by 2%. Lower prices of petroleum products (liquid fuel prices fell by 32.4% and the prices of fuel and lubricants by 23.9%) had the biggest impact on annual deflation, at 1.4 percentage points. At the monthly level, consumer prices increased mostly due to higher prices of food.

Port operator Luka Koper's net profit almost halved in Q1

KOPER - Port operator Luka Koper posted a net profit of EUR 7 million for the first quarter of 2020, down 48% year-on-year, as sales declined by 9% to EUR 55 million. Earnings before income tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) were down 37% to EUR 15 million and pre-tax profit (EBIT) dropped by 50% to EUR 9 million. All goods categories bar liquid cargoes were down volume-wise, for an overall tonnage decline in throughput of 12%.

Pandemic slashes Unior profit

ZREČE - The state-owned tool maker and automotive supplier Unior saw its net profit slashed by 60% to EUR 2.7 million in the first quarter compared to the same period a year ago as net revenue fell 14.5% to EUR 56.2 million, a development attributed to the coronavirus pandemic and a temporary suspension of production. The January-March bottom line is EUR 1.8 million short of the target figure, according to the unaudited report. EBITDA fell by 27% year-on-year to EUR 8.3 million and EBIT slumped by 46% to EUR 4 million.

Aluminium producer Talum records profit in 2019, 2020 to be turbulent

KIDRIČEVO - Aluminium producer Talum generated EUR 327 million in net revenue and almost EUR 680,000 in net profit in 2019. General manager Marko Drobnič told the STA that more than EUR 290 million came from aluminium product sales with 87% of the sales made in foreign markets. More than 136,000 tonnes of Talum aluminium products were sold last year. The 2019 business results are slightly below expectations mostly because of a drop in sales prices. The Kidričevo-based company employed some 1,530 people at the end of last year. It is in the majority ownership of ELES, the state-owned power grid operator.

Cetis ends 2019 with higher revenue, profit

CELJE - Cetis, a printing group specialised in secure documents, saw its revenue rise by 11.3% to EUR 66.4 million in 2019, while its net profit more than doubled to EUR 4.5 million over 2018, the Celje-based company said. The parent company generated nearly EUR 37 million in revenue in 2019, up 10.5%, of which more than half on foreign markets. Net profit nearly doubled to EUR 3.6 million.

Real estate transactions hit record in 2019

LJUBLJANA - The total value of real estate transactions in Slovenia reached a record level last year, estimated at EUR 2.7 billion, as prices continued to grow, albeit at a lower pace than in 2018, shows a report from the Surveying and Mapping Authority. The report says that the record amount should be attributed to several sell-and-lease-back contracts for shopping centres, and that the figure was unlikely to be exceeded this year.

Historian Peter Štih elected new SAZU president

LJUBLJANA - Peter Štih, a 59-year-old history professor, was elected the new president of the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts (SAZU) to succeed Tadej Bajd, who has headed the academy since 2014. Štih, a doctor of historical sciences, professor of medieval history and historical auxiliary sciences at the Ljubljana Faculty of Arts, has been a full SAZU member since June 2015, serving as its vice-president since 8 May 2017. Presidency members are elected for three-year terms and may be re-elected once.

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