Morning Headlines for Slovenia: Tuesday, 21 July 2020

By , 21 Jul 2020, 04:14 AM News
Morning Headlines for Slovenia: Tuesday, 21 July 2020 pikrepo CC-by-0

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This summary is provided by the STA:

Slovenia marks 10th anniversary of OECD membership

BRDO PRI KRANJU - An event at Brdo estate marked the 10th anniversary of Slovenia's membership of the OECD with Foreign Minister Anže Logar saying that joining the organisation offered the country an opportunity for new development achievements. Just like it managed to overcome the global financial crisis by way of structural reform, following the OECD's guidance, Logar said the government was aware that wise measures would be needed again to exit the current crisis. OECD Secretary-General Jose Angel Gurria, addressing the event by video call, said he was confident Slovenia would exit the current crisis stronger as well. Gurria also had a video call with PM Janez Janša, who is in Brussels for the EU summit. The pair discussed Slovenia's demographic challenge as highlighted in the OECD's latest Slovenia survey, preparations for Slovenia's EU presidency as well as digital economy and proposals for how to tax it. They also exchanged views on other topical European issues.

OECD urges Slovenia to aid economy until growth is restored

PARIS, France - The OECD's latest economic survey praises Slovenia's response to the Covid-19 pandemic and urges the state to continue providing support measures for the economy until growth is fully restored. "Slovenia acted quickly to halt the spread of Covid-19 and its healthcare system managed the outbreak well," the OECD said in a press release. But as measures to support jobs, income and businesses are gradually being wound down, the economy may need a fiscal stimulus to prevent a possible spike in bankruptcies and unemployment. The OECD estimates Slovenia's economy will grow 4.5% in 2021 after contracting by 7.8% this year, if there is no significant second wave of Covid-19.

PM says EU summit agreement possible today or tomorrow

BRUSSELS, Belgium - PM Janez Janša believes EU leaders could reach agreement on the 2021-2017 budget and the coronavirus recovery fund today or tomorrow. Arriving for the fourth day of talks at the EU summit, he said a few open issues remained but "I can say that many positions have been brought closer together". He said Slovenia insisted on sufficient funds at EU level but also on an advantageous ratio between grants and loans and on an appropriate national envelope. The talks are meanwhile continuing on the latest compromise unveiled today: the recovery fund would stay at EUR 750 billion, whereas the amount of grants would be lowered compared to the original proposal. EUR 390 billion or 52% is now envisaged for grants and EUR 360 billion for loans, while the original idea was to have two-thirds of grants.

Opposition concerned Janša changing Slovenia's EU course

LJUBLJANA - The opposition raised concern Slovenia's foreign policy might be changing course following unofficial information that PM Janez Janša sided with his Hungary and Poland over the rule of law in the ongoing talks on the EU budget and the recovery fund. Janša's predecessor in office, Marjan Šarec, came out strongly against Janša today, asserting the government "is leading Slovenia in the direction of Visegrad where the desire is obviously not to respect the rule of law". Janša already dismissed on Sunday the Financial Times report that Hungary, Poland and Slovenia were resisting the system that would tie EU budget funds to respecting fundamental human rights. He said Slovenia wanted the same standards apply to all members. Arriving for day four of the talks in Brussels today, he said that discussions about the rule of law clarified a lot and that there was agreement the rule of law must not be tied exclusively to EU funds and investments.

Slovenia's Covid-19 death toll rises to 113, seven new infections

LJUBLJANA - Slovenia's Covid-19 death toll rose to 113 after another patient died on Sunday, the latest government data shows. Seven new coronavirus cases were confirmed on Sunday as 371 tests were carried out. 19 patients are in hospital, including three in intensive care. The country now has 237 active cases. One recent outbreak has been in a kindergarten in Odranci, north-east, where five teachers tested positive on Saturday and Friday but none on Sunday. A total of 71 persons had been ordered to self-isolate. The infection had been transmitted from a teacher who does not come from Odranci and the kindergarten is closed until further notice.

FM Logar discusses rule of law with EU justice commissioner

LJUBLJANA - Foreign Minister Anže Logar discussed the rule of law and the EU's new rule of law mechanism with European Commissioner for Justice Didier Reynders in a videoconference, focussing on the first rule of law report being compiled by the European Commission, which will expectedly be completed in September. The pair also talked about cooperation and tasks awaiting Slovenia during its EU presidency in the second half of 2021.

Bilateral cooperation in focus of Logar-Ashkenazi phone call

LJUBLJANA - Foreign Minister Anže Logar told his Israeli counterpart Gabriel Ashkenazi the Slovenian government was interested in deepening Slovenian-Israeli relations, the Slovenian Foreign Ministry said in a press release. The pair agreed the countries should enhance cooperation in several fields, including in economy, science and IT. Foreign affairs were also on the agenda, foremost the Middle East peace process, with Logar highlighting the role of dialogue that would lead to a two-state solution.

RTV Slovenija in deadlock as changed 2020 plans rejected

LJUBLJANA - RTV Slovenija's programming council did not back the public broadcaster's changed financial and production plans for 2020, which the leadership had prepared in response to the coronavirus. The media outlet's revenue was EUR 1.7 million lower than expected in the first six months, mostly on account of lower advertising revenue, whereas the cost of wages was EUR 1.9 million higher. Today's no-vote could put RTV Slovenija in a dire financial situation amid concerns that the government is trying to undermine it with a controversial media reform. Kadunc said "I don't know how to proceed" given that the broadcaster "has a production plan which is not covered by the financial plan". He said he had not expected such an outcome and was particularly bothered by the abstained votes; almost half of the members of the 29-strong council present at the session abstained from voting, which could be seen as a vote of no-confidence in him. Kadunc, however, does not intend to resign.

SDS MEP sends media legislation letter to EP culture committee

BRUSSELS, Belgium - Slovenian MEP Milan Zver of the ruling SDS, an EPP member, defended a government proposal to change Slovenia's media legislation in a letter to the European Parliament's culture committee, saying he saw it as the first small step towards the media becoming plural and balanced. He also assessed a recent letter another two Slovenian MEPs, althought from the Renew political grouping, sent to European Commission Vice-President Vera Jourova was misleading. Klemen Grošelj and Irena Joveva argued the changes would have far-reaching consequences for the media industry and the country's democracy. Zver meanwhile said they were just smaller corrections of the media legislation. He also rejected the notion they were designed to subjugate the media to government control or to destroy independent reporting.

Vox Populi poll shows little change at the top

LJUBLJANA - The latest Vox Populi public opinion poll shows little change at the top of the party rankings. The ruling SDS polled at 22.7%, the same as the month before, with the opposition SocDems down half a point to 14.7%, having jumped by seven points in the previous month after MEP Tanja Fajon took over as interim leader. The opposition Marjan Šarec List (LMŠ) is broadly flat at 10.8%, whereas the opposition Left lost a point and a half to 6.7%, shows the poll, carried by Večer and Dnevnik. The government's approval rating was at 48.5%, up slightly from June.

Tourism vouchers worth EUR 20 million redeemed in a month

LJUBLJANA - Roughly 130,000 Slovenian residents have redeemed state-sponsored tourism vouchers worth EUR 20 million in the first month since the launch of a scheme designed to help the Slovenian tourism industry recover from the coronavirus epidemic, Financial Administration director Peter Jenko said. The bulk of the vouchers were redeemed at the most popular tourism destinations: coastal resorts, the north-western Gorenjska region and spas. Some 44% were spent at hotels, 20% on self-catering apartments and roughly a tenth in campsites.

Drop in collected taxes less sharp in June

LJUBLJANA - The downward trend in tax collection slowed down in June, when the majority of stimulus measures took effect. The Financial Administration (FURS) collected EUR 1.15 billion in taxes and other levies last month, which is 19.8%, or EUR 285.2 million, less than in the same month in 2019. A 4% drop in collected taxes and other levies was already recorded in March, mostly on the back of the anti-epidemic measures, followed by a 25% drop in April as virtually the entire retail and hospitality sectors shut down. The downward trend continued in May, when the receipts dropped by almost 40% year on year. In the first six months, a total of EUR 7.5 billion was collected, or 13.4% less than in the same period in 2019.

Wind farm to be built near border with Croatia

LJUBLJANA - A wind farm with a rated capacity of 21.6 megawatts is to be built on a mountain ridge near the border with Croatia, under plans recently endorsed by the government. The government took the decision on 8 July on the implementation of a national zoning plan for six wind turbines on the Maceljska Gora ridge in the area of Rogatec, east. The six wind turbines, each with a rated capacity of up to 3.6 megawatts, or a combined 21.6 megawatts, could produce 55 gigawatt hours of power annually.

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