Morning Headlines for Slovenia: Thursday, 25 June 2020

By , 25 Jun 2020, 03:48 AM News
Morning Headlines for Slovenia: Thursday, 25 June 2020 JL Flanner

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This summary is provided by the STA:

Statehood Day ceremonies marked by division and discord

LJUBLJANA - President Borut Pahor addressed the state ceremony on the eve of Statehood Day in Ljubljana's Congress Square, urging acknowledging the role of democracy and dialogue in Slovenia's further development. The evening saw political divisions rise again with some boycotting the official ceremony and several thousand turning up for an alternative event in the nearby Prešeren Square shortly before the official festivity. "I miss the democratic zeal today. I miss trust and confidence to be able to talk honestly and without insults about everything and come to agreement on many a thing," Pahor said in his keynote as he looked back to when Slovenia declared independence from Yugoslavia in 1991.

Face masks compulsory again, legal basis created for contact tracing app

LJUBLJANA - The government created the legal basis for a contact tracing app in amendments to the third stimulus package, while it also decreed that face masks are compulsory again in indoor public places, and on public transport from Thursday. This comes after Slovenia saw an uptick in new coronavirus cases with seven new infections confirmed on Tuesday after 13 cases the day before, a two-month high. Most stem from abroad. Although no new fatalities have been recorded since 1 June the death total was raised to 111 after two more deaths from April had been added.

List of Covid-19 risky countries expanded

LJUBLJANA - The government removed Montenegro and Luxembourg from the green list of Covid-19-safe countries from which arrivals face no restrictions, while adding Albania and Portugal to the list of red countries from where entry into Slovenia entails a mandatory two-week quarantine. New restrictions for all four countries apply from Thursday. The Foreign Ministry strongly advises against any travel to the red-labelled countries. Health Minister Tomaž Gantar said the country cannot go from green to read in a day, but only "via a transition".

Furlough scheme to be extended

LJUBLJANA - The government proposed extending the furlough scheme by at least a month until the end of July in amendments to the third stimulus package. Moreover, the changes will provide recovery funds for social institutions in the wake of the corona crisis and make accommodation providers open only during the tourism season eligible for accepting holiday vouchers. Under the changes, the government will also again cover quarantine costs instead of companies. The government also further detailed the loan guarantee scheme to make it workable and tackle company liquidity problems.

Janša rejects claims he has authoritarian tendencies, says govt working hard

LJUBLJANA - Prime Minister Janez Janša rejected in an interview with the weekly Demokracija accusations about authoritarian tendencies, saying the reproaches "are coming from those who left the country naked and barefoot before one of the hardest tests in this nation's history". Arguing that unlike its predecessors the government is not only engaging in empty talk but is cooperating, Janša said all coronavirus crisis stimulus packages had been coordinated with stakeholders across the board and that the opposition had been invited to cooperate as well.

Govt adopts bills to secure defence investment improve soldier status

LJUBLJANA - The government endorsed and submitted to parliament a bill that would provide EUR 780 million for investment in the Slovenian Armed Forces between 2021 in 2026, the bulk for the acquisition of armoured personnel vehicles to set up a battalion battlegroup, plus an aircraft and two helicopters. The government also put forward a bill amending the defence act to tackle the career issues of soldiers once they turn 45, either by envisaging contract extension options or re-employment alternatives at other state bodies. The measures is to cost EUR 500,000 in six years.

Soldiers report to prime minister on eve of Statehood Day

LJUBLJANA - Members of the Slovenian Armed Forces (SAF) serving in international operations and missions reported via video link to PM Janez Janša, who commended the commanders of contingents for keeping Slovenian soldiers safe and healthy at the time of increased risk due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The videoconference coming on the eve of Statehood Day was also addressed by Brigadier General Robert Glavaš, the chief of the general staff of the SAF, who noted that Slovenian solders abroad were being constantly praised.

Govt forecaster corrects outlook to a milder contraction

LJUBLJANA - The Institute of Macroeconomic Analysis and Development (IMAD) slightly upgraded its forecasts for Slovenia's economy for this year, now projecting a contraction of 7.6%, down from 8.1% forecast in May, to be followed by a 4.5% growth in 2021. "The virus will be present for quite a while longer," IMAD director Maja Bednaš told reporters in Ljubljana as she presented the corrected outlook, which will serve as a basis for the government to draw up a supplementary budget.

FinMin urges banks to think about jobs and not primarily about profit

LJUBLJANA - Addressing a Slovenian Bank Association conference on the impact of Covid-19 on the economy, Finance Minister Andrej Šircelj said banks should presently focus not so much on their profitability but on helping preserve jobs and companies in general. "A long-term perspective is needed," he said, arguing banks could not do without companies.

Trade unions on alert as employees threatened with dismissals over quarantine

LJUBLJANA - The decision of some companies to advise their workers not to travel outside Slovenia for summer vacation because they may face a two-week quarantine upon return and consequently put their jobs at risk has caused a stir. A trade union reacted by announcing possible lawsuits. The Labour Ministry said that an employer cannot prohibit an employee from leaving the country but can possibly dismiss them for travelling to countries that are on the so-called red list of risky countries. The Labour Inspectorate said that employer notifications or statements whereby employees agree they cannot leave Slovenia when on leave cannot have any direct legal consequences.

European Liberals concerned by political situation in Slovenia

BRUSSELS, Belgium - The Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe Party (ALDE Party) expressed concern over the political situation in Slovenia, with the party head, Hans van Baalen, announcing he would consult with Slovenian members of ALDE on this and consider sending a fact-finding mission to Slovenia. The Slovenian ALDE members are the coalition Modern Centre Party (SMC), and the opposition Marjan Šarec Party (LMŠ) and Alenka Bratušek Party (SAB). According to the newspaper Dnevnik, rumour in Brussels has it that ALDE is displeased with its member SMC.

Statistics show significant blow to tourism during epidemic

LJUBLJANA - About a month after Slovenia emerged from coronavirus lockdown, data released by the Statistics Office on Wednesday show tourism suffered a severe blow during the epidemic. The number of overnight stays in the first five months was 58.8% lower than in the same period last year, while in May, there was a 96.5% drop in guests over May 2019. All tourism facilities were forced to close in mid-March, when Slovenia declared the coronavirus epidemic and imposed a number of restrictions. Small hotels of up to 30 rooms were allowed to reopen on 18 May.

Epidemic restrictions cause biggest drop in service revenue on record

LJUBLJANA - Restrictions in place to fight the coronavirus epidemic in Slovenia in April caused the biggest drop in revenue generated in the services sector since January 2000, when the Statistics Office first started recording service revenue data. Compared to March, revenue dropped by 19.5%, while year-on-year, it was down as much as 30.3%. Revenue dropped in all segments of the services sector, most significantly in services that were banned from operating during the epidemic.

Business sentiment grows for second consecutive month

LJUBLJANA - Business sentiment in Slovenia has grown for the second consecutive time in June, the data released by the Statistics Office showed. The index increased by 8.7 percentage points (pp) to -24.0pp between May and June. Nevertheless, it was still 29.3pp lower than in June 2019 and 24.1pp lower than a years long average.

Home prices up in first quarter, fewer transactions

LJUBLJANA - The prices of homes in Slovenia rose by 1.1% in the first quarter of the year over the previous one and by 5.5% year on year, but the number of transactions was lower and the number of used apartments sold was the lowest in the last five years, the Statistics Office said. The prices of second-hand home units in quarterly comparison were up by 1.2% on average, whereas second-hand apartments were 1.4% dearer and second-hand houses 0.7% costlier.

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