Morning Headlines for Slovenia: Thursday, 1 April 2021

By , 01 Apr 2021, 03:50 AM News
Portrait of Emma Zorn (1887) Portrait of Emma Zorn (1887) Anders Zorn, via Wikimedia

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This summary is provided by the STA

Two-month high of 1,558 new coronavirus cases confirmed

LJUBLJANA - Slovenia confirmed 1,558 new cases of coronavirus on Tuesday, the highest daily figure since 2 February, as the share of positive tests continued to climb, exceeding 21% for the first time since mid-February, the latest government data show. There were 500 Covid-19 patients in hospital, down by 15 over the day before, whereas the number of ICU cases rose by six to 111. The seven-day average of daily cases jumped to 996 and the 14-day incidence per 100,000 residents is now at 617. Seven people with Covid-19 died, while the national data tracker estimates there are now over 13,000 active cases.

Police from other EU countries to help patrol Slovenian-Croatian border

LJUBLJANA - Slovenian police officers will be joined by officers from other EU countries in patrolling the Slovenian-Croatian border in a bid to prevent illegal migration. The move comes after the government's proposal of having the army help the police failed to garner sufficient support in parliament. Slovenia is to sign cooperation agreements on the "joint patrols and other joint forms of action to deal with illegal migration" on the Slovenian-Croatian border, the government said.

US State Department Human Right report for Slovenia puts attacks on press in spotlight

WASHINGTON, US - The US Department of State released the 2020 Human Rights international report which also analyses the situation in Slovenia. Attacks on media and harassment of journalists in the country feature more prominently than ever, the latter being described as one of the key human rights issues in Slovenia. Apart from threats of violence against journalists by nongovernment actors, the other significant issue is criminalisation of libel and slander. Another issue that features heavily is discrimination against the Roma community. Moreover, reports by NGOs on asylum seekers pushbacks are mentioned.

STA supervisory board urges govt to release overdue funding

LJUBLJANA - The supervisory board of the Slovenian Press Agency (STA) called on the government to immediately settle all of its outstanding liabilities to the STA and to comply with its legal obligations to finance the STA public service. Due to the lack of budget funds, "the company will be insolvent and incapable of meeting its financial obligations a few weeks prior to its 30th anniversary," chief supervisor Mladen Terčelj said.

Hojs and Schinas discuss presidency priorities

LJUBLJANA - Interior Minister Aleš Hojs talked to Margaritis Schinas, the European commissioner for promoting the European way of life, as part of Slovenia's preparations for its EU presidency in the second half of 2021. Hojs presented Slovenia's priorities for the presidency, above all efforts to strengthen the Schengen zone, comprehensive migrations management and providing a high level of security in the EU. However, concrete goals will be set only just before the start of the presidency, when the situation of key dossiers will be clear.

Logar and Dimitrov talk North Macedonia's EU accession efforts

LJUBLJANA - FM Anže Logar hosted North Macedonia's Deputy PM Nikola Dimitrov, who is in charge of EU affairs, with the official visit revolving around priorities of Slovenia's upcoming EU presidency and North Macedonia's efforts to join the EU. Logar presented to Dimitrov the priorities, which also cover the Western Balkans, and pledged further support for North Macedonia on its journey towards EU membership. Dimitrov said that 2021 was a key year for Western Balkans countries as well as for the EU's credibility as North Macedonia was still waiting for the start of negotiations with the union.

Čokl new interim leader of DeSUS

LJUBLJANA - Anton Balažek stepped down as interim head of the opposition Pensioners' Party (DeSUS) at the party council meeting. Brigita Čokl will be in charge until the election congress, which is expected in June. Balažek took over on 10 March, when Karl Erjavec resigned following a failed vote of no-confidence in the government in which he vied for prime minister.

Contract signed for new Črni Kal-Koper rail section

LIPICA - The contract for principal works on the Črni Kal-Koper section of the Divača-Koper rail track was signed with officials announcing the start of works in May. The contract was signed by Pavle Hevka, director-general of 2TDK, the company managing the Koper-Divača project, Iztok Černoša, a 2TDK director, and Kristjan Mugerli, CEO of builder Kolektor CPG.

Slovenia joins statement on WHO-convened Covid-19 origins study

LJUBLJANA - Slovenia and 12 other countries joined the US-proposed joint statement on the study of Covid-19 origins by the World Health Organization (WHO) that expresses concern over its delay and calls for more clarity over the pandemic's outbreak, the Foreign Ministry announced. The statement says that "together, we support a transparent and independent analysis and evaluation, free from interference and undue influence, of the origins of the Covid-19 pandemic." It comes after WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said experts sent to Wuhan had limited access to unprocessed data.

General government deficit at 8.4% of GDP last year

LJUBLJANA - Slovenia's general government deficit in 2020 amounted to EUR 3.87 billion or 8.4% of GDP, the Statistics Office reported. The deficit represents a EUR 4.07 billion change compared to 2019, when a surplus was recorded. The central government sub-sector generated a deficit of EUR 3.96 billion and the other two sectors - local government and social security funds - generated surpluses of EUR 83 million and EUR 8 million, respectively. At the end of 2020, the gross general government debt amounted to EUR 37.43 billion or 80.8% of GDP. Year-on-year, it increased by 15.2 percentage points of GDP.

Slovenia's annual inflation at 0.1% in March

LJUBLJANA - Consumer prices in Slovenia grew at an annual rate of 0.1% in March, ending a seven-month deflation spurt on the back of higher prices of non-durable goods and electricity, the Statistics Office said. Among goods, non-durables were the only category in which prices grew, by an average of 2.2%. Semi-durable and durable goods were down by 5.8% and 0.3%, respectively. The single biggest contributor to inflation, accounting for a full percentage point of the headline rate, was electricity, where prices increased by almost 39%. The harmonised index of consumer prices stood at 0.1% in March.

Survey unemployment rate at 4.9% in February

LJUBLJANA - Slovenia's survey unemployment rate reached 4.9% in February, up 0.7 of a percentage point from February 2020 and down 0.2 of a point from January this year, the Statistics Office said. As many as 51,000 Slovenian residents aged between 15 and 74 were jobless, of whom 48% men and 52% women. Until now, monthly estimates of International Labour Organisation (ILO) unemployment rate for Slovenia have been calculated and published only by Eurostat. With February's estimates, SURS started publishing this statistics, and calculated monthly unemployment rates for the period extending back to January 2010.

Epidemic pushes households' final consumption, savings rate to record levels

LJUBLJANA - Households in Slovenia saved a record high share of their disposable income in the coronavirus year 2020, while their final consumption expenditure saw a record drop, the Statistics Office said. Gross disposable income of households rose by 9.8% or EUR 716 million in nominal terms in the last quarter of 2020 annually to EUR 8.04 billion. In the entire year 2020, gross disposable income of households was by 3.8% higher than the year before.

Committee rejects opposition's recommendations on protective equipment

LJUBLJANA - Discussing the findings of the recent audit report on the procurement of personal protective equipment, the parliamentary Economy Committee rejected the opposition's recommendations regarding the procurement. Economy Ministry State Secretary Simon Zajc labelled them as absurd and unnecessary. The group of opposition MPs proposed the government act in line with recommendations from the Court of Audit, prepare legislative changes that would provide for appropriate legal foundation for action in extraordinary circumstances and not to use the emergency situation for setting up non-transparent systems of supply.

Religious workers to receive basic income until end of June

LJUBLJANA - The government extended basic income for religious workers, introduced by the seventh stimulus package, until the end of June, as such income had also been extended for the self-employed, sole proprietors and farmers, the government said. Religious workers from any of the registered churches or other religious communities who were included in the obligatory pension and disability insurance on 1 October 2020 will receive a basic income of EUR 700 a month until the end of June.

Protesters rally against lockdown

LJUBLJANA - Between 200 and 300 people gathered in front of the Presidential Palace on the eve of Slovenia's third lockdown protesting restrictions aiming to limit the spread of coronavirus. They believe that some of the restrictions which are to be in place between 1 and 11 April are illogical, irrational and even bizarre. The protest brought together members of several civil initiatives, including those representing education workers, parents and hospitality workers, among others. They demand that President Borut Pahor start taking action and the Constitutional Court decide on review requests pertaining to the restrictions.

DARS revenue and profit suffer due to pandemic

LJUBLJANA - The motorway company DARS generated EUR 398.58 million in revenue last year, some 20% less than in 2019. Its net profit dropped to EUR 59.5 million, down from EUR 139.6 million, unaudited results show. Tolls accounted for EUR 386.96 million in revenue last year, resting place rentals for EUR 7.13 million, while motorway closures and overloads brought in EUR 984,500. Write-offs amounted to EUR 212.85 million, the company paid EUR 35.7 million in financial liabilities, spent EUR 44.7 million on goods, materials and services, while its labour cost amounted to EUR 46.8 million.

Slovenian motorway patrol coming soon

LJUBLJANA - The Motorway Police Department became formally operational in what is a major step towards the formation of the Slovenian motorway patrol. The first patrols aimed at boosting the enforcement of traffic rules and improving safety on the motorway network are expected to hit the road in June as part of the Specialised Motorway Police Unit Ljubljana. It is to be followed by four more regional units (Koper, Novo Mesto, Celje and Maribor), to be established by May 2022 so that the entire motorway network is covered. Once fully operational, the Slovenian highway patrol will employ 285 police officers.

Krško shuts down for scheduled maintenance

KRŠKO - The Krško Nuclear Power Station (NEK) will shut down for scheduled maintenance Wednesday night as its 31st fuel cycle ends, with the works involving 1,800 workers from the EU and US, and some 40,000 individual activities. NEK director Stane Rožman said the maintenance works will be very intensive and logistically demanding due to the complexity of the works and number of contractors. The maintenance works will include refuelling, verification of the integrity of key components such as the reactor vessel and steam generator, and maintenance of electrical installations and instruments.

Slovenian youth football team out of European championship

MARIBOR - Slovenia are out of the UEFA European Under-21 Championship with two losses and one draw, the second and decisive loss coming on Tuesday evening at the hands of Italy (0:4). The tournament did not open quite well for Slovenia, as they suffered a 0:3 defeat by Spain last Wednesday, and the loss was followed by a 1:1 draw with the Czech Republic on Saturday.

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