Morning Headlines for Slovenia: Thursday, 24 December 2020

By , 24 Dec 2020, 04:06 AM News
Morning Headlines for Slovenia: Thursday, 24 December 2020 Flickr - Thomas Hawk CC-by-2.0

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This summary is provided by the STA

Vaccine expected in Slovenia on Saturday, vaccination to start on Sunday

LJUBLJANA - Vaccination against Covid-19 is expected to start at care homes around Slovenia on Sunday, after the vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech is expected to arrive in the country on Thursday. Labour Minister Janez Cigler Kralj said care home residents will be the first to get vaccinated as the most vulnerable group. Slovenia expects to receive 9,750 vaccine shots in the first batch, just as other EU members, with another 6,825 to arrive by the end of the year, the Health Ministry said. This batch should suffice for all care home residents who have not been infected yet.

IMAD forecasts 6.6% GDP contraction for 2020, 4.3% growth for 2021

LJUBLJANA - IMAD, the government's macroeconomic think tank, reduced the GDP contraction forecast for 2020 from 6.7% to 6.6% and downgraded its growth projection for next year from 5.1% to 4.3%, the Government Communication Office said after the government took note of IMAD's report. IMAD says in its winter forecast that following a significant drop in the second quarter of this year, the economy rebounded better than expected in the third quarter. The think tank expects another drop in the last quarter, but not as severe as it was in the spring. In 2022, Slovenia could see a 4.4% growth.

Increase in infections as mass testing starts

LJUBLJANA - A total of 2,129 new coronavirus cases were confirmed in Slovenia on Tuesday from a combined 10,593 antigen and PCR tests as voluntary mass testing got under way, government data show. The combined test positivity rate was 20%. Another 36 patients with Covid-19 died, which brings the overall death toll to 2,454, according to the tracker site The 7-day average of new cases is 1,349 and the 14-day incidence per 100,000 residents 94.

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Govt to approve national recovery and resilience plan in February

LJUBLJANA - The government took note of the drafting of Slovenia's recovery and resilience plan, the basis for the country to draw EUR 5.2 billion in EU funds. The plan will be adopted by the government after the EU's recovery and resilience plan is approved, expectedly in February. The government tasked the Office for Development and European Cohesion Policy to submit the final version for approval after the relevant EU directive is passed by the EU Parliament, expectedly in February.

Janša says Slovenians will celebrate independence anniversary separated yet united

LJUBLJANA - PM Janez Janša pointed out in his address ahead of Independence and Unity Day the decision for independence 30 years ago had been the right decision to make and also economically grounded. He said the epidemic must not spoil the celebration. "We will celebrate separated yet united," he said as he addressed a special TV-only ceremony. Earlier in the day, the National Assembly met for a ceremonial session to celebrate the holiday, which is observed on 26 December in memory of the declration of the 23 December 1990 referendum result in favour of independence.

Public transportation to run during festive season, no more cross-municipal movement after Christmas

LJUBLJANA - Public transportation will continue to run during the festive season until the end of the year, even if it was initially relaxed only for the period between 15 and 23 December. The government also decided that ski gondolas, which are classified as public transport in Slovenia, will begin operating on 1 January, under the condition that the operator organises fast antigen testing. Meanwhile, movement between municipalities in the western Slovenian regions with a favourable epidemiological situation will no longer be possible after Christmas.

Pahor thanks soldiers for promoting Slovenia abroad

LJUBLJANA - President Borut Pahor addressed Slovenian soldiers serving in international operations and missions via videolink, thanking them for their contribution in promoting Slovenia internationally. He wished them to continue to successfully tackle the challenges brought by the Covid-19 pandemic. As the supreme commander, Pahor was briefed by the commanders of the Slovenian contingents in North Macedonia, Afghanistan, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Kosovo, Latvia, Lebanon, Iraq, Syria, Serbia, Italy and Mali, which combined feature around 370 soldiers.

Parliamentary speaker says no-confidence vote could be scheduled for early January

LJUBLJANA - Following the announcement by Pensioners' Party (DeSUS) head Karl Erjavec that the opposition would file a no-confidence vote in the government before the end of the year, Speaker Igor Zorčič said that in this case, the National Assembly would most likely be taking the vote in the first week of January. Under the National Assembly's rules, MPs can take a no-confidence vote 48 hours after such a proposal was filed at the earliest or seven days after at the latest.

Govt adopts positions on draft EU migration directives

LJUBLJANA - The government adopted positions on several draft EU directives on migrations and asylum. The Government Communication Office (UKOM) said Slovenia supports the directive on the asylum fund and changes envisaged in the procedure of ascertaining the member state responsible for individual international protection applications. Slovenia also believes that migration solidarity among member states should not be obligatory under normal circumstances, only in times of crisis.

Top court decrees reopening of special needs schools

LJUBLJANA - The Constitutional Court stayed the implementation of the decree prohibiting gatherings in educational institutions which implement programmes for children with special needs. It ordered the government to make it possible for such programmes to resume in-person from 4 January. This does not mean, though, that schools and institutions for children with special needs have to provide the same scope of services as they had before the Covid-19 epidemic or that all of them open.

Tonin stresses successful cooperation with Montenegrin counterpart

LJUBLJANA - Defence Minister Matej Tonin met his newly-appointed Montenegrin counterpart Olivera Injac via videoconference. Tonin said that the meeting, held so soon after Injac assumed office, was a sign of successful cooperation between Slovenia and Montenegro in defence, security and military matters that bodes well for the future. The pair highlighted certain new areas for regional or wider cooperation, and decided to meet on an official visit next year, the epidemiological situation permitting.

Official warns against overworked Constitutional Court

LJUBLJANA - As Slovenia celebrates Constitution Day, in memory of the constitution passed in 1991, Constitutional Court president Rajko Knez told the STA in an interview the court had been affected by the coronavirus epidemic in terms of caseload. He warned against overburdening the court with additional tasks in general as this may weaken the institution. The court received more than 130 appeals to review the government's decrees on coronavirus restrictions and relief measures.

Government proposes much lower fines for speeding

LJUBLJANA - The government adopted changes to the road traffic rules act that significantly lower fines for speeding, making them comparable at the EU level. Infrastructure Minister Jernej Vrtovec said more effort should be invested in prevention and control than fines. Those exceeding the 50 km/h limit by 10-20 km/h would earn a EUR 120 fine plus three penalty points, instead of the current fine of EUR 250 plus three penalty points. The fine for using one's mobile phone while driving would however increase, from EUR 120 to EUR 250.

National Review Commission rejects Chinese complaints over railway project

LJUBLJANA - The National Review Commission has rejected as ungrounded the demands for a review of a selection procedure for main construction works on the Divača-Koper rail track in which four Chinese bidders were eliminated from the competition. The bidders that remain in the bidding process have now until 1 February 2021 to submit their bids.

Suspected attacker on police, journalists at 5 Nov protests apprehended

LJUBLJANA - The police have apprehended a 26-year-old man from Maribor suspected of attacking two police officers, two reporters and a photo journalist during the violent protest in Ljubljana on 5 November. The suspect was brought today before an investigative magistrate, who remanded him in custody. Ljubljana Police Department head Stanislav Vrečar said the search of the suspect's home produced items that could serve as proof of the attack, but also illicit drugs. The Maribor-based newspaper Večer reported Tuesday that the suspect had already admitted to the police that he was the one who had attacked the police officers and journalists.

Police to take part in EU missions in Ukraine, Georgia

LJUBLJANA - The government decided that up to five Slovenian police officers will take part in each of the EU's missions in Ukraine and in Georgia, the Government Communication Office (UKOM) said. The EU's advisory mission in Ukraine aims at helping the authorities to reform the country's civilian security sector, whereas the monitoring mission in Georgia is to make sure hostilities among the regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia do not repeat. UKOM said that as a credible EU member state, Slovenia was aware of security challenges and threats coming from crisis areas.

Other police trade union not joining announced strike

LJUBLJANA - While agreeing with some of the demands by the fellow Police Trade Union of Slovenia (PSS), the other police trade union in the country said it would not join the strike announced by the PSS for 11 January. The Trade Union of Police Officers (SPS) believes the strike is not appropriate in the current situation. Representatives of both unions met with Interior Ministry State Secretary Franc Kangler, after which the ministry said the sides shared the view all open issues could be resolved soon after New Year's through dialogue and with consensus.

Govt confirms annual plan for managing state assets

LJUBLJANA - The government confirmed the 2021 plan for the managing of capital investments put forward by Slovenian Sovereign Holding (SSH). The custodian of state assets expects 4.2% return on equity, which is up 0.8 percentage points from what is expected this year. Dividends should remain level. The adoption of the annual plan is crucial for SSH's activities and meeting of its targets in 2021.

Slovenia to get highway patrol unit in 2021

LJUBLJANA - A highway patrol unit is to be established in Slovenia at the beginning of next year in a bid to boost the enforcement of traffic rules and improve safety on the Slovenian motorway network. It is expected to eventually assume other duties as well, including the prevention of crime and illegal migration. The relevant agreement was signed by the interior and infrastructure ministers, the acting police commissioner and the chairman of the national motorway company DARS.

Upper chamber vetoes special tax treatment of shipping companies

LJUBLJANA - The National Council, the upper chamber of parliament, unanimously vetoed changes to the tonnage tax act which extend by another ten years a special regulation under which shipping companies pay an alternative form of corporate income tax. This means the National Assembly will have to vote on the bill again, with 46 votes needed. A similar bill was passed in December 2019, but it was vetoed by the upper chamber in January, with the lower chamber failing to overturn the veto.

Consumers bit more confident as year ends

LJUBLJANA - Slovenia's consumer confidence has improved somewhat this month after three consecutive months of decline. However, the respective indicator is still 19 percentage points down year-on-year with data from the Statistics Office showing Slovenian consumers have not been as pessimistic as this year since 2013. The consumer confidence index in December improved by four percentage points from the month before.

Housing real estate market slightly up, statistics show

LJUBLJANA - Housing real estate prices in Slovenia were 0.1% higher in the third quarter of 2020 compared to the second, data from the Statistics Office show. Sales figures show a high demand for second-hand properties, while demand for new real estate is far weaker. The average price of new housing real estate, which includes flats and houses, dropped by 4.4% in the third quarter over the one before. Prices of new flats dropped by 4.5% on average and prices of houses by 3.1%.

Museum of Contemporary History gets new boss

LJUBLJANA - Historian Jože Dežman has been appointed director of Slovenia's Museum of Contemporary History. He will take over on 1 February 2021 for five years, the newspaper Delo reported on Wednesday. Dežman, who is also the chair of the government commission for concealed mass graves, led the museum before, between 2005 and 2010. Now he will suceed Kaja Širok as her second term at the helm of the museum expires.

Slovenia among countries faring best in Creative Europe

LJUBLJANA - Slovenia is one of the European countries that did best in Creative Europe open calls in the 2014-2020 period. According to 2014-2019 data, the country ranks ninth among 41 eligible countries in the Creative Europe sub-programme Culture. When it comes to the number of approved projects, it ranks fifth. Moreover, Ljubljana ranked second among European capitals of culture, according to both the total of approved projects and the volume of EU funds.

Civil Protection boss declared Val 202's person of the year

LJUBLJANA - National public radio station Val 202 declared Srečko Šestan, the commander of Civil Protection, its person of the year. He was picked by the finalists selected by Val 202 listeners. Šestan, who daily coordinates the work of more then 1,000 members of Civil Protection who are helping to fight the epidemic, and was the person of the month in June, thanked the listeners who voted for him. "By voting for me, they have voted for all those who are working and helping in this crazy situation."

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