Morning Headlines for Slovenia: Wednesday, 14 October 2020

By , 14 Oct 2020, 03:57 AM News
Morning Headlines for Slovenia: Wednesday, 14 October 2020 HARSH KUSHWAHA pexels, CC-by-0

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This summary is provided by the STA

Almost 400 new coronavirus cases recorded as positivity rate remains high

LJUBLJANA - A total of 397 people tested positive for the new coronavirus on Monday, when 3,308 tests were performed, which means that the positivity rate remains high at 12%. Four persons died of Covid-19. There are currently 180 people in hospital, up eight from yesterday, of whom 32 need intensive care compared to 26 yesterday, according to according to data tracker Covid-19 Sledilnik. The virus continues to spread in healthcare institutions and care homes. Several members of the staff in the Celje general hospital tested positive yesterday.

Govt says situation calls for additional restrictive measures

LJUBLJANA - Government spokesperson Jelko Kacin announced that all the criteria for activating additional restrictive measures had been fulfilled. The government will decide on Wednesday what measures from the last package of measures in the orange phase to take. The possible measures include a lockdown of individual municipalities or regions, a blanket ban on visits to hospitals and other institutions, and the closure of bars, restaurants and gyms. The government may also restrict visits to hairdressers and beauty salons, while events, religious ceremonies and weddings could be banned in certain municipalities or regions.

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Ministry finds CoE Covid-19 app report slipshod

LJUBLJANA - The Public Administration Ministry responded to a Council of Europe (CoE) report that finds privacy protection shortcomings in Slovenia's coronavirus exposure app for smartphones by describing the report as cursory and unworthy of the institution. The Digital Solutions to Fight Covid-19 report, released on Monday, is written cursorily, "something that such a highly esteemed institution as the Council of Europe ought not to have afforded," said the ministry. The ministry says, among other things, that the Slovenian app #OstaniZdrav (#StayWell) has been adapted from the German app in such a way that it prevents abuse of the user's personal data or location the user needs to switch on when downloading the app.

Fifth stimulus package slightly changed by committee

LJUBLJANA - The parliamentary Labour Committee prepared the fifth stimulus package bill for passage late on Monday. A few changes were made compared to the original proposal but the main tenets of the bill remaining unchanged. The bill extends the furlough scheme and the state will continue to cover the sick pay for quarantined workers, even when they are on sick leave because their children are in quarantine. Sole proprietors and micro companies will once again be eligible for monthly income support, just like during the epidemic, and new bonuses will be introduced for workers in healthcare and social security.

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Slovenia issues EUR 1bn worth of 30-year bonds under favourable terms

LJUBLJANA - Slovenia issued EUR 1 billion-worth of 30-year bonds, the business paper Finance said in a report referring to Bloomberg data. Unofficially, the interest rate for the bonds was slightly under 0.5%, while the yield also stands at around 0.5%. According to unofficial sources quoted by Bloomberg the interest rate for the issue is 50 basis points above the 30-year mid-swap rate, which stands at -0.005%. Bloomberg said this would mean a better result than planned, as the financial institutions commissioned for the issue by the state had expected 65 basis points. Demand reportedly exceeded EUR 8 billion.

Janša defends attacks by arguing judiciary needs to earn respect first

LJUBLJANA - A meeting of top representatives of all three branches of power saw Prime Minster Janez Janša defending the continuing political attacks on the judiciary by arguing that respect first needed to be earned. President Borut Pahor urged respectful, responsible and dignified communication. The meeting was prompted by Supreme Court president Damijan Florjančič, who expressed the wish a suitable response is secured to inappropriate commentaries and attacks on the judiciary that have intensified recently. Janša sees things differently, arguing that despite the division of powers "it is probably not forbidden to express criticism". He feels it would be hard to speak of democracy if this were not allowed.

Report says Slovenia doing too little to prosecute bribery of foreign officials

BERLIN, Germany/LJUBLJANA - Transparency International placed Slovenia among countries with limited enforcement of the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention, which deals with bribery of foreign public officials. The Exporting Corruption 2020 Report says that "Slovenia continues to have an inadequate legal framework on anti-corruption, and questionable political commitment to implementing and improving it". While also speaking of poor whistleblower protection, the report says "there is an ongoing failure by Slovenia to enforce the laws prohibiting foreign bribery."

Slovenian and Austrian police hold joint drone exercise

ŠENTILJ - The Slovenian and Austrian police conducted a joint border control exercise on the Austrian side of the Šentilj border crossing using unmanned aerial vehicles. Slovenian interior minister Aleš Hojs and his Austrian counterpart Karl Nehammer met on the occasion, underlining effective cooperation and discussing the Covid-19 situation. The ministers said that police forces of both countries were cooperating successfully, with Hojs pointing out that the joint exercise showcased the impact of modern technologies on border control and the fight against organised crime.

Slovenia sees common EU map for travel restrictions important achievement

LUXEMBOURG, Luxembourg - European Affairs State Secretary Gašper Dovžan, who represented Slovenia at the meeting of EU European affairs ministers, spoke of an important achievement as a common map for coronavirus-related travel restrictions was agreed in Luxembourg. While the agreement is less ambitious than proposed by the European Commission and leaves a number of issues open, the EU will now have a shared map that will mark region with green, orange or red depending on the intensity of coronavirus transmission.

Czech PPF takes over Pro Plus owner CME

LJUBLJANA - The Czech investment group PPF, owned by Czech billionaire Petr Kellner, completed last week its acquisition of the Central European Media Enterprises (CME) fund, which also owns Slovenia's leading television network group Pro Plus. The total value of the deal has been estimated at EUR 1.89 billion. Apart from Slovenia, the CME fund also owns television channels in the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Romania and Bulgaria. PPF Group aims to upgrade already successful operations in CME markets, said the company.

T-2 suing state for EUR 55m over alleged receivership errors

LJUBLJANA - Telecommunications operator T-2 is suing the state for nearly EUR 55 million it claims it suffered in damages due to wrongful court decisions as part of receivership proceedings that date back a decade, the newspaper Delo reported. The company's creditors, spearheaded by the bad bank, had initiated receivership proceedings to recover more of their assets, and T-2 challenged the receivership in court. It won some suits and lost several others until the Constitutional Court in 2017 annulled the receivership procedure.

Opposition seek to grant single women assisted reproduction

LJUBLJANA - The left-leaning opposition parties the Left, the Marjan Šarec List (LMŠ), Social Democrats (SD) and Alenka Bratušek Party (SAB) asked the Constitutional Court to examine act on infertility treatment and procedures of biomedically-assisted procreation which limits medically assisted insemination procedures to married or cohabitating couples, on the grounds that it discriminates against single women. The parties argue that the law is discriminatory and unconstitutional because it restricts access to assisted reproductive procedures to couples.

Ombudsman asked to look into police handling of Friday protest

LJUBLJANA - A group of anti-government protesters requested for Human Rights Ombudsman to examine what they see as excessive use of police force at last Friday's protest. They also urged the ombudsman to oversee the police handling of future protests. The protesters argue that the government ban on gatherings of more than ten people is disproportionate and in violation of the right to free speech. They also say that police powers and the current health crisis are being abused for politically-motivated reasons.

Sovre Prize for best literary translation goes to Aleksandra Rekar

LJUBLJANA - Aleksandra Rekar won this year's Sovre Prize for her translation of Bosnian-Croatian writer Miljenko Jergović's Rodbina, an almost thousand-pages-long historical fiction novel. Rekar's translation shows profound knowledge of the novel's topics, said the Association of Slovenian Literary Translators. Rodbina or Rod was released in 2013 and is considered one of the most prominent literary works hailing from the countries of the former Yugoslavia in the past 30 years. Spanning the entire 20th century, the novel is a family epic that apart from telling the story of Jergović's family also sheds light on political and cultural history of Bosnia-Herzegovina and Croatia.

Greenpeace conference highlights high costs of nuclear power

LJUBLJANA - A web conference organised by Greenpeace Slovenija and featuring international experts highlighted some of the problematic aspects of nuclear energy as a way of dealing with the climate crisis and pointed to the potential of renewable energy sources. Katja Huš of Greenpeace said that in a period where there is increasing talk in Slovenia about building a new nuclear reactor, the debate on the future energy policy in the country had been rather one-sided, so the idea was to provide a platform for those opposing nuclear power plants.

Slovenia wants consideration of country specifics when raising emissions cut target

LUXEMBOURG, Luxembourg - Slovenia can support a raising of the emissions cut target until 2030 from the current 40% to at least 55% provided that national circumstances are taken into account in the process, said European affairs State Secretary Gašper Dovžan who represented Slovenia at an EU ministerial. Dovžan said that there is still no united position on the new target, which will be discussed at a summit at the end of the week, but there is the ambition to reach an agreement in December.

Major investments listed as committee looks at infrastructure budget

LJUBLJANA - Increased investment into railways, stare roads and energy infrastructure as well as into drinking water provision and waste water treatment was highlighted as the proposed budgets for infrastructure and the environment for 2021 and 2022 were presented at committee level in parliament. The 2021 budget for the Infrastructure Ministry is being increased by EUR 270 million compared to the original proposal with a record EUR 1.07 billion in expenditure planned. The 2022 funds are a bit lower, which is related to the dynamics of EU funding, heard the session of the parliamentary Infrastructure Committee.

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