Morning Headlines for Slovenia: Friday, 19 March 2021

By , 19 Mar 2021, 06:59 AM News
Morning Headlines for Slovenia: Friday, 19 March 2021 Wikimedia - Mitatetaidukushi Torikeshitai, 1878

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This summary is provided by the STA

Court of Audit finds government, Commodity Reserves Agency inefficient in PPE procurement

LJUBLJANA - In its report on the efficiency of procurement of protective and medical equipment for containing the spread of the new coronavirus, the Court of Audit has found although the circumstances were extraordinary, the government, the ministries of health, economy and defence, and the Commodity Reserves Agency were inefficient in the PPE procurement. The court urged them to take remedial measures. Government representatives downplayed the court's findings, arguing they did what had to be done in the given circumstances and highlighting the lack of evidence of corruption. The opposition expects law enforcement to do its job now.

Slovenia resumes use of AstraZeneca vaccine after brief suspension

LJUBLJANA - Slovenia decided to resume using the AstraZeneca vaccine after the European Medicines Agency (EMA) assessed AstraZeneca's Covid-19 vaccine "safe and effective" after a review of possible blood clot risks, Health Minister Janez Poklukar announced. Slovenia opted for a suspension on Monday after reports of blood clots led many European countries to halt the vaccination pending an additional review by the EMA. Senior officials will be among the first to get the jab tomorrow. After the suspension, Slovenia has over 14,000 shots of the AstraZeneca vaccine on store.

Report: Slovenia not to accept settlement with Ascent Resources

LJUBLJANA - The newspaper Delo reported unofficially that Slovenia was not to accept a settlement with the British company Ascent Resources over the dispute about permits for the extraction of gas by means of hydraulic fracturing in the north-east of Slovenia. The two sides entered negotiations last October, but the British company said this would not prejudice its rights to pursue its investment treaty claim under the UK-Slovenia bilateral investment treaty and the Energy Charter Treaty.

Janša talks cooperation, migration and Covid-19 with Salvini

LJUBLJANA - Prime Minister Janez Janša talked with the head of the Italian Northern League party Matteo Salvini on Wednesday, with the topics including strengthening cooperation between Slovenia and Italy, migration, and fight against Covid-19. As Janša tweeted today, he and Salvini discussed cross-border cooperation, fighting the pandemic, illegal migration, the Conference on the Future of Europe and the current political situation in Europe.

Pahor talks about pandemic efforts with Slovak counterpart

LJUBLJANA - President Borut Pahor spoke via video link with his Slovak counterpart Zuzana Čaputova to exchange views on the battle against Covid-19 and the political, economic and social consequences of the pandemic, the president's office said. The pair stressed the importance of closer cooperation at the EU level, which is, despite all difficulties with the supply of vaccines, the most suitable and effective framework for solving the current issues.

Slovenia, North Macedonia deepening defence ties

LJUBLJANA - The defence ministers of Slovenia and North Macedonia, Matej Tonin and Radmila Šekerinska, called for a strengthening of defence ties as the pair met in Ljubljana. They agreed to boost cooperation in NATO missions and set up a joint centre for the maintenance of OshKosh armoured vehicles. "Slovenia is interested in North Macedonia's army participating in Slovenian Armed Forces' platoons or companies at missions abroad," Tonin said.

Care homes in focus as MPs debate Cigler Kralj ouster motion

LJUBLJANA - The outbreak of Covid-19 in care homes was front-and-centre as the National Assembly debated a motion of no-confidence in Janez Cigler Kralj, the minister of labour, the family and social affairs. While some in the opposition accused him of neglect, Cigler Kralj pointed to years of underfunding and understaffing. The vote is scheduled after some 17 hours of debate, that is after midnight, but the minister is expected to survive it as the four-centre left parties which proposed it lack the 46 votes needed to dismiss him.

Govt adopts omnibus bill to tackle red tape

LJUBLJANA - The government adopted an omnibus bill that would amend over a dozen laws and repeal dozens more in an effort to simplify bureaucratic procedures. The wide-ranging changes affect areas including official registries of laws and personal data, electronic serving of official documents and the powers of state secretaries. A result of a year's work by the Strategic Council for Debureaucratisation, also brings a cap on social security contributions at EUR 6,000 gross per month. According to business daily Finance, roughly one percent of employees has a gross monthly wage over EUR 6,000.

972 coronavirus cases recorded from 5,442 PCR tests on Wednesday

LJUBLJANA - Out of 5,442 PCR tests performed on Wednesday, 972 returned positive for a positivity rate of 17.9%, down from 18.6% on Tuesday and an increase from 14.9% a week ago. Hospitalisations slightly increased in the wake of the recent upward trend in infections. An additional three Covid-19 patients died, show fresh official data. The number of those in hospital increased by 18 to 462, including 85 who require intensive care, up by two. 20 people were discharged from hospital.

Mandatory mask-wearing in school challenged at top court

LJUBLJANA - A group of legal guardians of underage children has filed a petition to launch a review of constitutionality of a government decree that mandates mask-wearing in public spaces, including in secondary school and primary school for pupils in years 6 to 9, the group's representative Esmeralda Vidmar said on Wednesday. The group considers mandatory mask-wearing an arbitrary measure violating a number of rights that is not based on any expert opinion.

Govt calls on STA supervisory board to dismiss director

LJUBLJANA - The government proposed for the STA supervisory board to dismiss Bojan Veselinovič as STA director, alleging violations in the fulfilment of the agency's legal obligations. Veselinovič said this was "a new chapter in a series of attacks on the independent STA and an attempt to replace its leadership", while the chairman of the supervisory board, Mladen Terčelj, said the board would study the proposal and act in accordance with the law. The Slovenian PEN centre meanwhile urged the government to fundamentally change its attitude to the STA as well as media and journalists in general.

Miha Pogačnik again the country's rep for succession

LJUBLJANA - The government dismissed Mateja Vraničar Erman as Slovenia's high representatives for succession and appointed international law expert Miha Pogačnik to succeed her. Pogačnik has since last April led the government's legal service, while he served as high representatives already between April 2005 and April 2009 during Janez Janša's first government (2004-2008). The high representative is a guardian of the 2001 agreement governing succession to former Yugoslavia.

Joško Knez new acting ARSO boss

LJUBLJANA - The government appointed Joško Knez the acting director general of the Slovenian Environment Agency (ARSO) to take over from Iztok Slatinšek on 1 April. Knez, currently director at ARSO's Office of Meteorology, Hydrology and Oceanography, served as ARSO director general between March 2013 and November 2018 and earlier as acting director. He is a physics graduate and holds a master's degree in environmental studies. The government relieved Slatinšek of his duties after appointing him for a six-year term last November.

Economy Ministry gets new state secretary

LJUBLJANA - The government appointed Andrej Čuš, the leader of the non-parliamentary Greens and a former MP for the Democrats (SDS), a new state secretary at the Economy Ministry. On 20 March, he will succeed Ajda Cuderman, a former SPIRIT Slovenija boss, whose new job will be in the prime minister's office.

C-bank nominee wins broad support on commission

LJUBLJANA - The parliamentary Privileges and Credentials Commission overwhelmingly backed Tina Žumer to become a vice governor of the Slovenian central bank in an indication that she may win an outright majority at the plenary session. The commission also endorsed Anka Čadež's appointment as director of the Securities Market Agency. Žumer, who has been serving as a chief economist with the European Central Bank after a spell at the analytical department of Banka Slovenije, was backed in an 11:1 vote.

Adient on shutdown: Slovenia no longer best country cost-wise

SLOVENJ GRADEC - The US multinational Adient explained its decision to close down its Slovenj Gradec affiliate by saying that "internal assessments and discussions with key clients had shown that Slovenia was no longer considered a best cost country". As a result of the discontinuation of production of components for car seats and interiors in Slovenj Gradec, 412 people will lose their jobs by the end of the year and another 18 in May next year when the company is close. The employees cannot understand why the owner has made such a decision practically overnight given the company's good results. The trade unions urged the government to take action, while the ministries of economy and labour said they would do everything in its power to help the employees.

OECD worried about absence of foreign bribery prosecution in Slovenia

LJUBLJANA - The OECD says in a report that insufficient prosecution of foreign bribery in Slovenia is still a reason for concern and so are claims about political interference in law enforcement. Its working group on bribery says that ever since 1999, not a single case of foreign bribery has made it to court in Slovenia. The OECD is meanwhile happy with the protection of whistleblowers and changes to the law on integrity and prevention of corruption.

Dog mauls 8-year-old girl to death

MENGEŠ - An eight-year-old girl died of her injuries after being mauled by a dog in Mengeš just north of Ljubljana on Wednesday afternoon, the Ljubljana Police Department said. The police were notified of the incident just before 5pm. The inquiries so far show the girl neared a largish dog which was chained up in a house yard. The dog attacked and badly bit the girl, who later died of her injures on the site. The house yard was fenced off but the gate into the yard was open.

Downward trend in illegal migrations continues in 2021

LJUBLJANA - The police processed 630 cases of illegal border crossings in the first two months of 2021, down from 1,171 in the same period in 2020, in what is a continuation of the seasonal downward trend. Most frequently illegal migrants came from Afghanistan, whereas the number of caught Moroccans significantly declined.

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