This summary is provided by the STA:
Janša urges von der Leyen to send fact-finding mission to Slovenia
LJUBLJANA - PM Janez Janša has written to European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen with an invitation for the Commission to appoint a fact-finding mission that would visit Slovenia to get acquainted with the state of democracy, rule of law, independence of the judiciary and media plurality. Responding, the Commission confirmed it had received Janša's letter on Thursday, adding the Commission's annual report on the rule of law was the proper framework to assess the situation of the freedom of the media. The second report for EU members is to be released in the second half of 2021 after the first came out last September, expressing concern at online attacks on journalists in Slovenia.
Highly virulent South African variant of coronavirus confirmed in Slovenia
LJUBLJANA - The first case of the South African variant of the novel coronavirus was confirmed in Slovenia today. The person from the area of Maribor in the north-east of the country has recently returned from Africa and was vaccinated against the coronavirus before travelling there, Health Minister Janez Poklukar told the press. Out of precaution, the National Laboratory of Health and the Institute of Microbiology will from now on do genetic sequencing of not only 10% but of 30% of all positive PCR tests in the region of Maribor per week. Until now, only the UK variant has been confirmed in Slovenia.
Slovenia's GDP down 5.5% in 2020 year-on-year
LJUBLJANA - Slovenia's GDP dropped 5.5% in real terms last year over the year before, the Statistics Office said. Domestic spending saw a considerable drop, while external demand also suffered a blow. Preliminary estimates show a drop of EUR 46.3 million at current prices, a nominal decline of 4.3% over 2019, while the drop reached 5.5% in real terms. Domestic spending was down 6.5%, dragged down most significantly by a 9.8% decline in household spending. GDP dropped 4.5% year-on-year in the final quarter of the year. IMAD, the government's macroeconomic think-tank, said the drop had been milder than its forecast because of favourable trends in exports and construction.
1% annual deflation recorded in February on cheaper fuel
LJUBLJANA - Slovenia recorded an annual deflation of 1% in February as prices of goods were down 1.3% compared to the same month in 2020 and prices of services dropped by 0.5%. Significantly cheaper petroleum products contributed the most to the annual deflation. Prices of fuel and lubricants for motor vehicles were down by 10% and prices of liquid fuels by 3.5%, contributing as much as 0.5 of a percentage point to the annual deflation in February. On the other hand, a 5.3% increase in prices of tobacco products offset the annual deflation by 0.2 of a percentage point.
Sales in services and retail down almost 10% last year
LJUBLJANA - The Covid-19 lockdown that started in March last year and that has persisted in various forms had a significant impact on the volume of sales in the services sector and retail in 2020, as it was down by a combined 9.6% compared to the year before. The drop in the services sector was 11.6% compared to 2019, while it was smaller, 6.2%, in retail, the Statistics Office said. The volume of sales decreased in all groups of the services sector, the most in hospitality (37.7%).
Survey unemployment in Q4 2020 up year-on-year
LJUBLJANA - The survey unemployment rate in Slovenia stood at 5.1% in the fourth quarter of 2020, level with the previous quarter and up 1.1 percentage points on same period in 2019, show Statistics Office data. The total of furloughed workers increased at the quarterly level, but remained below the spring lockdown figure. There were 53,000 unemployed persons in Slovenia in the fourth quarter, roughly the same number as in the previous two quarters but an almost 30% increase (12,000) year-on-year.
912 test positive for coronavirus, 14 people die
LJUBLJANA - 912 people tested positive for the novel coronavirus on Thursday in 4,484 PCR tests, the government said. The positivity ratio was at 20.3%. 14 Covid-19 patients died. The seven-day incidence average was at 764, an increase of 1, according to data from the National Institute of Public Health (NIJZ). NIJZ director Milan Krek warned that the lowering trend in infections is reversing, likely due to the presence of the British variant in the country.
Govt makes public national recovery and resilience plan
LJUBLJANA - The government on Thursday declassified the draft national recovery and resilience plan, which gives an insight into how much the government intends to allocate for each priority area. The development comes after a number of calls by centre-left opposition to make the document public, but Development Minister Zvonko Černač told the parliamentary EU Affairs Committee today he had declassified it after its contents had been leaked to a weekly. The committee discussed the plan today but rejected all recommendations from opposition parties.
Parliamentary body calls for new concept of demographic fund
LJUBLJANA - After discussing the government's Demographic Fund bill at the request of the opposition, the parliamentary Commission for Oversight of Public Finances concluded that the concept did not provide a long-term sustainability of pension funding and called on the government to draw up a new, better solution. Luka Mesec from the Left said this was one of the most important bills in this government's term, as it would decide on the management of EUR 8.4 billion in state assets, but no public debate had been conducted, but he finds it problematic that the fund would not be used to sustain the pension fund. Finance Minister Andrej Šircelj disagreed. The second reading is due at the plenary session starting on Monday.
Schools to stay open in Obalno-Kraška, no municipal travel ban
LJUBLJANA - As gatherings are banned in the coastal Obalno-Kraška region from Saturday and travel between this and other regions is restricted to work- and health-related reasons, Interior Minister Aleš Hojs said schools would not be closed in the region for the time being. There will also be no ban on travel between municipalities there. Hojs said the restrictions were being introduced due to the deteriorating epidemiological situation in the region. Several exceptions for the crossing of the regional border will be allowed, but these do not include visits to shops that are not available in the region.
Tonin says Poland example of modernisation and recruitment in army
WARSAW, POland - Defence Minister Matej Tonin met his Polish counterpart Mariusz Blaszczak in Warsaw as he concluded an official two-day visit to the country. He said that Poland was an example in terms of modernisation and recruitment in the armed forces that Slovenia would use in doing the same with the Slovenian Armed Forces.
Tonin and Blaszczak also praised the good relations and cooperation between the countries in defence and military matters, and agreed to form special expert groups that will exchange know-how and experience in modernisation and recruitment in the armed forces and cyber defence.
Nove24TV cameraman denied access to SD news conference
LJUBLJANA - A camera operator for Nova24TV, a news channel affiliated with the ruling Democrats (SDS), was denied access to today's news conference of the opposition Social Democrats (SD). While SD leader Tanja Fajon already apologised for the incident, which both Slovenian journalist associations condemned, the SD said on its platform Facts Only taht because of Nova24TV's known abuse, lies and distortion of facts, it had decided a while ago not to cooperate with it any more and that it was not welcome at the party's events as long as it continued "systematically generating lies and hatred".
Report: NBI files charges against four in Adria Airways case
LJUBLJANA - Delo reported that the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) had filed criminal complaints last month against four persons suspected of abuse of office or rights in relation to alleged irregularities in the bankrupt flag carrier Adria Airways. They are suspected of having caused EUR 3.6 million in damage to the company. This concludes the procedure conducted by the NBI in one part of the investigation, while another procedure is still under way, which the police did not wish to discuss as they want to protect the interest of the investigation.
Energy efficiency study shows room for improvement in public sector and companies
LJUBLJANA - The REUS study on energy efficiency in Slovenia has once again focused on the public and services sectors. Since the previous such study, seven years ago, much has changed regarding legislation and circumstances, however the situation leaves plenty of room for improvement in both sectors, the results of the latest survey indicate. The outcome of the study, conducted by communication agency Informa Echo in 2020, shows that the share of energy efficiency-minded consumers is smaller in the two sectors compared to households, Informa Echo director Rajko Dolinšek said at the presentation of the results.
Former Probanka executives plead not guilty to abuse of office
MARIBOR - Former member of the management board of Probanka bank, Milana Lah, and one of the bank's directors, Peter Lobnik, denied the charges of complicity in abuse of office or trust as they appeared before the District Maribor Court for a per-trial hearing, which was however not attended by the main defendant, businessman Tomaž Ročnik. The three are accused of causing over EUR 3 million in damage to companies Toming Consulting and Millcom group, both owned by Ročnik, with a deal involving the purchase of NKBM bank shares in 2008 for EUR 4.5 million from Probanka, although they were only worth EUR 1.7 million on the stock market.
Italy up in arms about new Slovenian rules on balsamic vinegar
LJUBLJANA - Slovenia's draft regulation on vinegar and dilute acetic acid quality has sparked strong protests in Italy, although the Slovenian government says Italy has not provided any formal comments so far. The proposal sets down that any vinegar mixture with concentrated fruit juice or must could be labelled balsamic vinegar. Slovenia notified the European Commission of the draft on 2 December 2020 with the standstill period ending on 3 March, the Agriculture Ministry told the STA.
Slovenia's women's ski-jumping team wins silver at World Championship
OBERSTDORF, Germany - Slovenia's Nika Križnar, Špela Rogelj, Urša Bogataj and Ema Klinec won silver at the Nordic World Ski Championships, missing gold by just 1.4 points. This is first medal for Slovenia's women's ski-jumping team at a world championship, and comes a day after Klinec won gold to become the first Slovenian female ski jumping world champion.
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