Morning Headlines for Slovenia: Tuesday, 12 January 2021

By , 12 Jan 2021, 04:25 AM News
Morning Headlines for Slovenia: Tuesday, 12 January 2021 Flickr - Thomas Hawk CC-by-2.0

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This summary is provided by the STA

Slovenia's Covid-19 death toll passes 3,000

LJUBLJANA - Slovenia's total of deaths among Covid-19 patients since the start of the pandemic has passed 3,000 after a further 24 died on Sunday. Another 426 people tested positive from 1,720 PCR and 480 antigen tests, as the PCR test positivity rate dropped for the fifth day. Covid-19 hospitalisations rose to 1,205 with 196 patients in intensive care. Slovenia has confirmed over 139,700 infections and 3,022 deaths, show data from the Covid-19 tracker site and National Institute of Public Health. On Tuesday, the first shipment of the vaccine developed by US biotechnology company Moderna, although only 1,200 vials, is expected to arrive in Slovenia.

Committee clears Adriatic zone-related activities

LJUBLJANA - Foreign Minister Anže Logar presented to the parliamentary Foreign Policy Committee the background of and Slovenia's planned activities regarding plans by Italy and Croatia to proclaim exclusive economic zones in the Adriatic. The strategy was endorsed unanimously by the committee behind closed doors. Logar told the press after the session the discussion had been constructive. He also announced a trilateral meeting between the Slovenian, Italian and Croatian prime ministers in Rome by the end of January.

Part of police officers on strike

LJUBLJANA - One of the two police trade unions went on strike to demand higher pay in line with a 2018 agreement that ended a previous strike. PSS trade union head Rok Cvetko said the strike would continue until a deal is clinched with the government, which deems some of the trade union's demands unjustified. Interior Minister Aleš Hojs said the Interior Ministry was in talks with the union. The ministry meanwhile posted on its website gross pay for almost 8,700 employees of the ministry, its inspection service and the police force for December to show that pay in the police force was not as low as some would think.

Financial experts stress key role of investments post-Covid

LJUBLJANA - Slovenia's central bank Banka Slovenije and the European Investment Bank (EIB) discussed investment priorities in the wake of the coronavirus crisis, with Boštjan Vasle, the governor of Slovenia's central bank, saying investment success would translate into effective crisis exit strategies. A slow rise in investments was halted by the crisis, however investments are even more vital now, Vasle noted, adding they also played a role in tackling one of Slovenia's key challenges - relatively low workforce productivity.

Constitutional Court stays implementation of act on army investments

LJUBLJANA - The Constitutional Court said it had stayed the implementation of a law on EUR 780 million in investments in the Slovenian Armed Forces in 2021-2026 pending its final decision on the law's constitutionality. If it turned out the act is unconstitutional, the consequences of its implementation would be more severe than if it is stayed for a relatively short time until it has reached its decision, the court said. The Defence Ministry labelled the decision as "disproportionate".

EUR 660m in development incentives available to companies

LJUBLJANA - The Economy Ministry has drafted a programme for development incentives for 2021, worth a total of EUR 660 million, including EUR 248 million in grants. The priorities of the programme include providing liquidity to companies and assistance in green and digital transition for higher added value. The ministry said the Slovenian economy was robust, but it was following the situation and trends in small and medium-sized enterprises with concern, especially in the field of services.

EU Commission: Press agency compensation possible without prior notification in certain circumstances

BRUSSELS, Belgium - State aid rules enable EU member states to grant state aid to press agencies as compensation for services of general economic interest, European Commission spokesperson for competition Arianna Podesta said in response to questions by Slovenian media after the government decided to solicit a state aid opinion from the Commission following legislative changes adopted to secure financing for the STA. Under certain conditions, compensation may be granted without prior approval by the Commission. The threshold is set at EUR 15 million per year, according to a Commission working paper. Unofficial information indicates the STA public service payments could be below the threshold for notification.

US ambassador to leave Slovenia next week

LJUBLJANA - US Ambassador to Slovenia Lynda Blanchard will leave Slovenia next week when incoming US President Joe Biden is to be inaugurated, the embassy told the STA, adding Blanchard, who is not a career diplomat, sent her resignation notice to outgoing President Donald Trump today. In recent days, Slovenia's top officials have met Blanchard, who started serving in Slovenia August 2019, for farewell visits. Both Foreign Minister Anže Logar and President Borut Pahor thanked her for her efforts to strengthen Slovenian-US relations.

SDS, LMŠ and DeSUS lose ground in Delo poll

LJUBLJANA - The ruling Democrats (SDS) continue to lead the field with 13.7% in the latest poll commissioned by the newspaper Delo, but have lost ground for the second month running. Its leader and PM Janez Janša saw the biggest improvement in voter approval to climb two spots to 16th on the list of the most popular politicians. The opposition LMŠ party of ex-PM Marjan Šarec and the DeSUS of the aspiring PM-designate Karl Erjavec have likewise slipped back amid growing voter discontent.

Quarantine word of the year 2020

LJUBLJANA - The Research Centre of the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts (ZRC SAZU) declared quarantine the word of 2020. It is followed by cycling in second place and 14 days in third. Apart from the 14-day period of isolation due to risky contacts which was later shortened to 10 days, quarantine was also used to refer to the lockdown in general. Cycling was, however, a form of protest against the Janez Janša government during lockdown.

Judge loses post for criticising Janša on Facebook

LJUBLJANA - The newspaper Dnevnik reported that judge Urška Klakočar Zupančič lost her position as the head of the commonhold department of the Ljubljana Local Court due to her posts about Prime Minister Janez Janša in a closed Facebook group. She labelled Janša as a "great dictator" and expressed hope "the age of Janšism will eventually become only a bitter memory". The judge, who says her Facebook 'friend' abused her trust, is also subject to disciplinary procedure.

Boom in public rental flats expected due to legislative changes

LJUBLJANA - The government expects that up to 10,000 new public rental apartments could be available within five to ten years under recently adopted housing act changes. The amendments to the housing act, adopted by the government last week and submitted to parliament, among others allow the national housing fund and municipal housing funds to borrow more. "The key objective of housing policy is to secure more public rental flats," Environment Minister Andrej Vizjak told the press.

Luka Koper's net sales revenue down 8% to EUR 206m

KOPER - Port operator Luka Koper generated EUR 206 million in net sales revenue in 2020, down 8% from 2019, while cargo transshipment was down by 14% to 19.5 million tonnes, shows the company's preliminary and unaudited report. "The reason for revenue dropping at a smaller rate than transshipment is better operations in additional services, filling and emptying of containers and in higher revenue from storage charge in certain segments," it said. The company felt the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, but transshipment of containers as a strategic group of goods nevertheless remained stable.

Industrial output slightly up in November

LJUBLJANA - Slovenia's industrial output was up by 0.2% in November 2020 compared with the month before, but dropped 0.8% year-on-year. In the first eleventh months of last year, it was down 6.7%, the Statistics Office reported.

Number of expected deaths in 2020 to be exceeded by 3,150

LJUBLJANA - The number of deaths in Slovenia in 2020 is expected to be the highest since WWII based on data collected so far. The number of excess deaths in 2020 compared to 2019 was 3,153, but only 262 were not related to Covid-19. Compared to the last five years, excess deaths reached 3,821, of which 930 were deaths not related to Covid-19, show data presented by the National Institute of Public Health (NIJZ).

Four mobile homes on their way to quake-stricken Croatia

LJUBLJANA - Slovenia continues to provide aid to the Petrinja area in Croatia that was hit by a devastating earthquake at the end of December, with a shipment of four mobile houses on their way there from the Roje logistic centre in Ljubljana. The Defence Ministry and the Civil Protection and Disaster Relief Administration said this was a third phase of aid provided by Slovenia to alleviate the consequences of the 6.4-magnitude quake. Aid is also being sent by charities and individuals.

Slovenian culture centre in Berlin gets new head

BERLIN, Germany - Saša Šavel Burkat was appointed the new head of the Slovenian Berlin Culture Centre starting on 9 January. The Culture Ministry described the new culture attache as an exceptional connoisseur of contemporary Slovenian and German production. A journalist and anthropologist, Šavel Burkart has worked at the public broadcaster RTV Slovenija for years, and is the author of several documentaries on visual arts and culture. She succeeds Gregor Jagodič.

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