Morning Headlines for Slovenia: Friday, 25 September 2020

By , 25 Sep 2020, 03:59 AM News
Morning Headlines for Slovenia: Friday, 25 September 2020 Flickr - Lionel Martinez CC-by-nc-nd-2.0

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This summary is provided by the STA

Janša tweets nobody should be forced into accepting migrants

LJUBLJANA - Responding to a tweet by Social Democrat (SD) leader Tanja Fajon about the importance of solidarity in relation to the new EU migration pact, PM Janez Janša tweeted that those "in Slovenia or the EU" who think they can force others into accepting migrants should first accommodate "at least two" in their own house or villa. This was his first response to the pact proposal, presented on Wednesday and introducing the notion of flexible but mandatory solidarity. Interior Minister Aleš Hojs wrote that Slovenia "is adopting stricter asylum legislation and legislation about foreigners, which is why the solutions presented by the EU are still far from the desired compromise".

Pahor argues for effective multilateralism in UN address

LJUBLJANA - Addressing the first ever virtual gathering of world leaders for the United Nations General Assembly session, Slovenia's President Borut Pahor argued for effective multilateralism, concluding his speech by quoting centenarian novelist Boris Pahor, who says humanity has enough wisdom and power to lead the world out of crisis. The president addressed five topics in his speech; multilateralism, technological development and security, the environment and biodiversity, solidarity and human rights, and the UN's 75th anniversary, a topic that he had already discussed at a dedicated virtual summit on Monday.

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Govt extends furlough scheme until year's end for all industries

LJUBLJANA - The government endorsed the fifth stimulus package. Chief among the measures is an extension of the furlough scheme until year's end for all industries, reversing earlier plans to confine the measure to sector worst hit by the pandemic. The eligibility criteria will however be stricter - at least a 30% drop in turnover compared to last year, Labour Minister Janez Cigler Kralj announced. The package also includes universal basic income for sole traders, and extra funding for health services. Moreover included is the extension of the power to issue fines for violations of protective measures from the Health Inspectorate to the police as well as to municipal wardens.

Fuel prices to be fully deregulated, Minister Vizjak scrutinised for buying Petrol shares

LJUBLJANA - Fuel prices in Slovenia will be fully deregulated, the government decided on Wednesday. The decision is expected to takes effect in October. The government says prices are unlikely to increase since new discount providers may enter the market, and fuel retailers welcomed the move. Some other stakeholders however voiced reservations, describing the move as a handout to oil firms at the expense of consumers. Coming in the wake of the decision was the news that Environment Minister Andrej Vizjak is being investigated by the securities market regulator for potential insider trading, having bought EUR 120,000 worth of shares of fuel company Petrol in the spring.

Slovenia records 122 new infections, two patients with Covid-19 die

LJUBLJANA - Slovenia recorded 122 new coronavirus infections in 2,848 tests on Wednesday. While two patients died, the number of Covid-19 patients in hospital remained stable. It dropped by two to 63, but 13 were in intensive care, three more than the day before. Two persons with Covid-19 died, increasing the death toll since the start of the epidemic to 145. Slovenia now has 1,427 active cases out of a total of 4,816 cases confirmed since the start of the pandemic.

Slovenia's economy to contract at slower pace than initially feared

LJUBLJANA - IMAD, the government's macroeconomic forecaster, upgraded its GDP projections for this year. Instead of a 7.6% contraction at the annual level predicted in the summer, it now expects the economy to shrink by 6.7%. However, it warns that uncertainty remains high. Economic activity is expected to reach pre-pandemic levels by 2022, but only assuming that there is not a new lockdown affecting certain activities, IMAD said in its autumn forecast released on Wednesday. The economy is forecast to grow by 5.1% next year and by 3.7% in 2022.

Focuses on Covid-19, EU as Logar addresses CEI ministerial

LJUBLJANA - Foreign Minister Anže Logar said Slovenia deems important solidarity in the EU and the integrity of the internal market and supports further EU enlargement as he addressed an online ministerial of the Central European Initiative (CEI). He said Slovenia attributed great importance to European solidarity and to the integrity of the common internal market, as part of which it worked towards a coordinated approach to relaxing coronavirus restrictions and restarting the European economy.

Bar curfew relaxed

LJUBLJANA - The government decided to relax the recently imposed 10:30pm curfew on bars and restaurants. Under changes to the decree adopted late on Wednesday, bars and restaurants are allowed to serve food and drinks from 6am to 10:30pm. However, the guests of establishments that serve "simple food, drinks and beverages", such as bars or patisseries, will have 30 minutes to leave the establishment and the guests of establishments serving "more complex dishes" will have an hour to clear out.

Slovenian region placed on Germany's red list

BERLIN, Germany - Germany placed the western Slovenian region of Primorsko-Notranjska on its list of Covid-19 high-risk areas. Passengers entering Germany who spent time there in the past 14 days must quarantine. The region was red-listed along with parts of ten other European countries, including Austria, Croatia, and Hungary, the Robert Koch Institute announced.

Parliament takes action against self-styled militias

LJUBLJANA - In a 48:1 vote, the National Assembly backed opposition-sponsored changes to two laws in a bid to limit the activities of self-styled militias which first upset the public two years ago. 35 MPs abstained from voting on what is a second attempt to criminalise uniformed groups parading with what are believed to be replica guns. With securing the border being in the police's domain, the changes prohibit para-military groups such as the Štajerska Gurad from patrolling the border or obstructing the police in doing so. The changes also ban encouraging the appearance of uniformed staff by wearing or displaying arms or wearing army fatigues and shoes.

Pahor calls for structural reforms at Manager Congress

PORTOROŽ - The two-day Manager Congress got under way in Portorož, with President Borut Pahor highlighting that managers' accomplishments helped Slovenia in tackling Covid-19. He also called for necessary structural reforms. An action plan for increased productivity, drawn up by the Managers' Association in cooperation with the School of Economics and Business and the Economy Ministry, was presented. Economy Minister Zdravko Počivalšek called it "the Bible of the economic and social revival of Slovenia". The Managers' Association conferred the Manager of the Year award to Enzo Smrekar, the director of food company Atlantic Droga Kolinska.

Report critical of Slovenia limiting freedoms during pandemic

BRUSSELS, Belgium/BERLIN, Germany - Slovenia is among the worst offenders in the EU to have disproportionately restricted freedoms during Covid-19 pandemic, says a report by Greenpeace and Civil Liberties Union for Europe. The Locking Down Critical Voices report says that the Slovenian government was among several to have used the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic as an excuse to limit criticism of the administration, including Germany, the Netherlands, Poland, Romania and Spain.

Impairments result in EUR 69m loss for retailer Mercator in H1

LJUBLJANA - Mercator Group sales revenue increased by 4.4% in the first half of 2020 compared to the same period last year, to reach EUR 1.06 billion. Due to the revaluation of property and impairments of other assets, and the effects of Covid-19, the retail group posted a loss of EUR 69.2 million in the January-June period. These factors excluded, the group would record a profit of EUR 86,000 on EBITDA that was up by 1.7% year on year to EUR 83.4 million.

More than 100 lose jobs at US-owned automotive supplier

SLOVENJ GRADEC - Adient Slovenj Gradec, the American-owned automotive seating components supplier, will lay off 119 of its 560 workers in what is the first major workforce reduction plan in the northern region of Koroška in the current situation. The company has been forced into redundancies after completing one of the production programmes and failing to secure a new one. The initial plan was to make 162 employees redundant, but through a team effort at the company 43 have been reassigned to positions in other production programmes, said spokesperson Natalia Podhradska.

Ljubljana train station upgrade eligible for state funding

LJUBLJANA - The government included a major upgrade of Ljubljana's railways infrastructure - which is part of the Ljubljana Passenger Terminal project - in the plan of development programmes for 2020-2023, which means it is entitled to state funding. The upgrade entails the renovation of railway tracks, railway track systems and platform infrastructure, as well as the construction of access areas as part of Ljubljana's railway hub. This first stage is estimated at almost EUR 109.9 million.

Court suspends cull of 115 brown bears

LJUBLJANA - The Administrative Court announced it had recently suspended the culling of 115 brown bears until its final decision. The relevant permit was issued in June by the Environment Agency (ARSO) for the period until the end of September for several areas in Slovenia where human-bear conflicts are very frequent. The court, acting upon the initiative of two environment protection and nature conservation associations, argued that killing the bears, a protected species, would cause irreparable damage and violate biodiversity. ARSO data shows that some parts of Slovenia have up to one bear per two square kilometres, which is among the highest density figures in the world. 

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