25 Jan 2022, 16:40 PM

STA, 25 January 2022 - Slovenia's Employment Service has recorded a significant rise in applications for the employment of foreigners last year, announcing on Tuesday that it had received 52,281 work permit applications in 2021, the most since the current system was put in place in 2015.

Slovenia has thus exceeded the previous record of 48,127 work permit applications received in 2019, when employment of foreigners in Slovenia was at its highest in recent years.

Of the 52,281 applications received in 2021, 46,264 were approved and 6,017 were denied.

The increased interest of foreigners in working in Slovenia is also a consequence of structural imbalances in the labour market, with employer demand far outstripping supply.

Foreigners in Slovenia are mostly employed in activities characterised by work in the field and under difficult conditions - construction, transport, manufacturing, catering and hospitality, and agriculture.

The Employment Service said that despite receiving a record number of applications, "the average processing times for applications are within the legal limits and are even getting shorter".

They also pointed out that most potential issues arise due to a lack of procedural knowledge by the applicants, inadequate or incomplete documentation, congestions at certain administrative units, and procedures to ensure that permits and workers are not abused by the employers.

The Employment Service added that it will organise special meetings to inform employers about the procedures as soon as possible, and that it will adjust its work towards taking on more staff and optimising tasks related to processing work permits for foreigners.

25 Jan 2022, 12:45 PM

STA, 25 January 2022 - Tourist arrivals in Slovenia increased by 31% in 2021 to reach just over four million, while overnight stays were up by 22% to 11.3 million, show data released by the Statistics Office on Tuesday.

Both figures are still far behind the records of 2019, when Slovenia reported 6.2 million arrivals and 15.8 million overnight stays

Domestic tourists accounted for 2.2 million arrivals last year, an annual increase of 17%, and 6.5 million overnight stays, an increase of 10% over 2020.

While the Slovenian tourism sector catered to more domestic guests, to a significant extent due to tourism vouchers issued to all citizens, there was a significant number of foreign tourists as well.

The contribution of vouchers and government measures to help tourism was also highlighted by Economy Minister Zdravko Počivalšek.

"For the continued turnout by both domestic and foreign visitors it is important that they should know that tourism providers in Slovenia offer safe and quality services and welcome all guests with a great deal of hospitality," commented the minister.

"Successful tourism will, by virtue of multiplier effect, contribute to higher economic growth this year and in the future," Počivalšek was quoted as saying in a press release of the Slovenian Tourist Board.

The board's acting director Ilona Stermecki added that Slovenian citizens would be encouraged to spend holidays at home this year as well.

Promotional campaigns will focus on active outdoor and sports tourism. A further focus will be on digitalisation of tourism and tapping on Slovenia's potential for tailor-made tourism offerings.

Arrivals and overnight stays of foreign tourists in 2021 stood at 1.8 million (up 51%) and 4.8 million (up 43%), respectively.

Most of the foreign tourists came from Germany - just under 415,000, up 43% compared to 2020 - and they accounted for just over a million overnight stays, up 31%.

Germany was followed by Austria with 171,000 arrivals (up 20%) and 434,000 overnight stays (up 16%), and Italy with 162,000 arrivals and 354,000 overnight stays, which is roughly the same as last year.

Tourists generated the most overnight stays in mountain resorts, almost 3.5 million, followed by seaside resorts and health or spa resorts with just over 2.6 million and 2.5 million, respectively.

The most popular type of accommodation were hotels, which accounted for just over 4.5 million overnight stays, followed by private accommodations with almost 2.7 million and camping sites with almost 1.8 million.

More on this data

24 Jan 2022, 12:40 PM

STA, 24 January 2022 - Invera Equity Partners, a Dutch private equity fund manager, has acquired a 58.2% stake in Slovenian prefabricated house maker Marles Hiše Maribor. Invera said it intends to strengthen the company's position in existing markets, increase production capacity, and secure new opportunities.

Marles will get the opportunity to expand its business, consolidate its position as the leading manufacturer of prefabricated wooden buildings in Slovenia, and become a major player in Central Europe, the company said in Monday's press release.

They added that Invera's strategic investment will result in additional hiring, increased investments and even more successful future operations, especially in the markets of Western Europe.

Invera is a private equity fund based in the Netherlands. It focuses on southeastern Europe, and its investor base consists of institutional investors such as the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and the European Investment Fund.

"We are very proud to assist Marles in its further development and expansion into the challenging Western European markets," said Janez Škrubej, a partner at Invera Equity Partners.

"We believe that the company can play a key role in the prefabricated timber building industry in the most demanding markets in Germany, Austria, Switzerland and beyond," he added.

Marles Hiše's board of directors described the transaction as good for all stakeholders. The remaining 41.8% stake in the company will be held by the Slovenian company Investma.

The company has consolidated annual revenues of around EUR 30 million and bills itself as the largest Slovenian producer of prefabricated wooden houses and buildings. It is also the largest exporter in this sector.

23 Jan 2022, 16:04 PM

STA, 22 January 2022 - As of today, retail businesses are no longer obligated to give out a paper receipt unless a client explicitly asks for it. Until now, businesses selling goods or services had to give clients a receipt on paper, or in the electronic form if the client agreed with this option.

This is no longer required as the changes to the VAT act kicked in on Saturday, transposing four EU directives and also bringing some simplifications for businesses.

This does not mean the receipt does not have to be issued.

Retail establishments still have to issue a receipt, which will also be recorded for tax purposes, it is just that the receipt will not be automatically handed to the client, Finance Minister Andrej Šircelj explained in parliament in November.

The seller now tells the client the amount charged, issues the receipt and registers it for tax purposes, but does not give a hard copy to the client, the Tax Administration explained.

21 Jan 2022, 11:31 AM

STA, 20 January 2022 - After calling for stable political relations following PM Janez Janša's statements on closer ties with Taiwan, the Slovenian-Chinese Business Council (Slovensko-kitajski poslovni svet - 斯洛文尼亚-中国商会斯洛文尼亚-中国商会said on Thursday that Slovenian companies in the Chinese market were already facing a response from Chinese partners, some of them terminating contracts and exiting the agreed investments.

The council told the STA that some companies had their purchase contracts cancelled, some had been notified that physical or online sale of products had been terminated, and some had seen their Chinese partner withdraw from business investments that had already been agreed.

Other companies have meanwhile followed the example of Lithuania, where the dispute with China has resulted in tightening of customs procedures with the largest economy in Asia, and are trying to divert its operations through other EU countries.

"International cooperation is mostly about the stability of the business environment, and as soon as it is shaken up, the economy feels the consequences," said the council, which is a part of Slovenia's Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GZS).

In its first statement on Wednesday, the council stressed the importance of stable political relations and added that economic relations should remain non-politicised.

The council also told the STA today that Slovenia was an export-oriented economy, while China was one of its largest partners outside the EU. Anything that makes economic cooperation more difficult is not in the interest of the economy, it added.

"Although our products and services are of high quality and innovative, every change in political relations changes the dynamics of business," the council said, adding that political relations should be stable in order to ensure a stable business environment.

In an interview Janša gave on Monday to the Indian public service broadcaster Doordarshan, he said that Slovenia and Taiwan were "working on exchanging representatives", adding the representatives would not be at the level of embassies.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China described his statements as "dangerous", whereas the Taiwanese Foreign Ministry expressed "gratitude" for his "staunch support".

Economy Minister Zdravko Počivalšek noted the importance of economic interests, saying that China was one of the largest economic partners outside the EU and personal views "must take into account the economic reality."

The statements prompted three centre-left opposition parties to request an emergency session of the parliamentary Foreign Policy Committee today, as they believe these could have long-term consequences for relations with Asian countries.

Matjaž Nemec of the Social Democrats (SD) told the press the statements were "a self-initiative that could have consequences in international relations", which he believes is inconsistent with international treaties to which Slovenia was bound.

Presenting the call for a closed session, which has also been requested by the Marjan Šarec List (LMŠ) and Alenka Bratušek Party (SAB), Nemec said Janša's statements were a "strategic shift" in relation to the world's second largest economic power.

Andrej Rajh of the SAB assessed that Janša's statements were "inadmissible and arbitrary soloing that pursues exclusively partial interests of his own party to the detriment of Slovenia", noting that China was a major economic partner to Slovenia.

Nik Prebil of the LMŠ said that the gist of the problem with the "unwise" statements by Janša was that he was aggravating relations with foreign countries, in this case with the world power China, "over partial interests of the prime minister."

He added that it was the National Assembly that shaped, changed and adopted the foreign policy of Slovenia, and noted that Janša announcing the establishment of diplomatic missions with Taiwan had circumvented the National Assembly.

20 Jan 2022, 13:54 PM

STA, 20 January - Former CEO of brewer Pivovarna Laško, Boško Šrot, and his family business Atka-Prima have been ordered to pay EUR 13 million in damages to fruit drinks producer Fructal over several deals dating back to 2008 and 2009, Primorske Novice reports.

The trial against Šrot and Atka Prima at the District Court in Nova Gorica started in 2012 and concerns damage allegedly caused by loans between Fructal and Šrot's firm when Fructal was still a part of the Laško group.

The parties confirmed that the court had upheld Fructal's claim, according to Primorske novice. Šrot's lawyer Uroš Pogačnik told the paper that they would appeal the ruling.

Šrot is currently serving a nine-year prison sentence for abuse of office and this is just the latest case in which he has been ordered to pay damages to companies that Pivovarna Laško used to control when he was the CEO.

18 Jan 2022, 12:27 PM

STA, 18 January 2022 - Cigarette sales in Slovenia have been on a decline in recent years, dropping by more than a third from 2011 to 2020. This trend has been followed, although at a slower pace, by declining income from related excise duties in the national budget, despite their increase of more than 50% in the last ten years.

The gradual decline in cigarette sales is shown by the data on the quantity of cigarettes on which excise duties were levied.

In 2011, excise duties were charged on 5.4 billion cigarettes, and in 2020 on 3.255 billion cigarettes, the Finance Ministry has said in a reply to a question from an MP.

At the same time, the amount of excise duties charged on cigarettes decreased from EUR 426 million in 2011 to EUR 381 million in 2020.

The ministry said that the gradual increases ensured that the general government revenue from excise duties on cigarettes was kept at approximately the same level.

"Otherwise, the revenues would have been significantly lower due to the expected reduction in the sold quantity of all tobacco products," it added.

The minimum excise duty per pack of cigarettes increased in the last ten years by 54% - from EUR 1.60 in 2011 to EUR 2.46 in 2021. The latest increase was implemented on 1 November last year.

The Financial Administration has noted that tobacco products by established international producers have been smuggled at a lower rate in recent years, while cigarettes and counterfeits of lower quality and price are predominant in seized shipments.

13 Jan 2022, 16:53 PM

STA, 13 January 2022 - A casino indirectly owned by the Austrian gaming giant Novomatic is expected to open in the Planet Tuš shopping and entertainment centre in Kranj this year, offering work to around 20 employees, as the local authorities recently approved the project after initially rejecting it last spring.

The 400 m2 casino will be open 24 hours a day, and will feature 105 gaming spots and electronic roulette with eight spots. It will be operated by the company P&P Marketing, which is part of the Admiral Slovenija group, owned by Austria's Novomatic.

The investment will be financed with the funds of the Admiral Slovenija group, which manages nine casinos in Slovenia.

According to P&P Marketing, the location in the eastern outskirts of Kranj is interesting both in terms of the number of residents and tourism in the municipality and in terms of the balance of offering, as there is one casino in the city centre.

The new casino, which is scheduled to open in June, is expected to employ about 20 staff and a few students, who, according to the investors, will ensure responsible gambling by observing and offering advice.

P&P Marketing noted that the new facility would not be in the immediate vicinity of residential areas, educational institutions or healthcare and religious institutions.

The municipality of Kranj has estimated that it will receive EUR 130,000 in concession fees from the new casino this year, more than EUR 300,000 next year and, after that, around EUR 350,000 on an annual basis.

06 Jan 2022, 11:49 AM

STA, 6 January 2022 - UniCredit Banka Slovenija will join the five banks in Slovenia that have already introduced a fee on high deposits for individuals. The bank announced on Thursday that it will introduce it for all physical persons whose deposits exceed EUR 100,000.

The first to introduce the fee in April 2021 were market leader NLB and SKB, which were followed by NKBM, Addiko Bank, and Delavska Hranilnica.

The five banks' total assets represent over 60% of Slovenia's banking market.

At all these banks, deposits of over EUR 100,000 are subject to the charge, which at most of the banks stands at 0.04%.

Eurozone banks increasingly opted for this measure last year due to extremely low interest rates and high liquidity, after first imposing it on legal persons.

06 Jan 2022, 11:44 AM

STA, 5 January 2022 - Slovenia ranked second among 23 selected member countries of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) in terms of how well it has coped with the economic aspects of the Covid-19 pandemic crisis, according to a ranking by The Economist, the UK weekly.

Analysts at the British economic liberal weekly used five criteria for the rankings, comparing values in the last quarter of 2019 and in the third quarter of 2021, or the period for which the latest data were available.

The five criteria were real GDP growth, real growth in household disposable income, growth in share prices according to the most relevant stock market index, growth in fixed investment and growth in net public debt as a share of GDP.

Slovenia recorded a 1.2% real GDP growth, a 10.1% real growth in household disposable income, a 33% growth in share prices, a 6.8% growth in fixed investment and a 7.4% growth in net public debt as a share of GDP.

The top spot in the rankings was claimed by Denmark, followed by Slovenia in second and Sweden, Norway and Chile rounding off the top five. Meanwhile, the last five places in the rankings were taken by Austria, Germany, Japan, the United Kingdom and Spain.

The Finance Ministry noted that The Economist ranked Slovenia among the Covid-19 pandemic winners. "The efficacy of the government policies is also being confirmed by the stability of Slovenia's credit ratings during the pandemic," it said.

The opposition Social Democrats (SD) meanwhile responded by saying that Slovenia was not among the winners of the Covid-19 pandemic, as it had had too many victims and had posted economic results that could not be bragged about.

The party took issue with The Economist noting a 7.4% growth in net public debt as a share of GDP for Slovenia, saying that this was not accurate. "The real figure is growth of the share of debt in GDP that is double of that, i.e. 14%."

If it was true that the government has more fiscal space than it has, it would now officially declare an epidemic, implement measures to mitigate inflation of energy prices, reduce VAT and introduce energy vouchers," the party said.

The SD added that "none of this is being implemented, and instead we only have selective measures for pre-election purposes and for selected groups."

05 Jan 2022, 19:41 PM

STA, 5 January 2022 - The statutory minimum wage in Slovenia is to increase by 4.9% to EUR 1,074 gross as of 1 January, reflecting the increase in inflation last year, the Labour Ministry has announced.

Minister Janez Cigler Kralj decided that the minimum wage for 2022 would be adjusted in equal amount to the rise in consumer prices in the past year after a second round of talks with social partners on Wednesday.

Under the minimum wage act, the wage is adjusted once a year at least to the rise in consumer prices. Available data from the Statistics Office shows annual inflation ran at 4.9% in December.

In a press release, the ministry said the minister's decision reflected the current macroeconomic forecasts, the uncertainty surrounding the Covid-19 pandemic and talks with the social partners.

The rise is much lower from the one proposed by the trade unions, who are disappointed, while the Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GZS) suggested it was too high and should be subsidised by the state.

The unions proposed a rise of 10.65% to EUR 1,133.35, Lidija Jerkič, the head of the ZSSS, the country's largest trade union association, told the STA.

They believe the rise should reflect not just the rise in living expenses but also economic growth, real wage growth, the fall in unemployment and in particular the most recent price hikes.

Jerkič said they also believed the rise should be more substantial because the minimum wage amount was based on minimum expenses from 2016, since when "these have increased substantially".

Meanwhile, the GZS said such a rise would be a major burden on businesses, in particular energy-intensive industries and small businesses.

They propose for the state to return part of the money raised through higher wage by granting a subsidy of EUR 30 per employee a month to the worst hit companies, following the model applied in 2021.

The GZS noted that the minimum wage had already risen by 8.9% last year despite consumer prices falling by 1.1% from December 2019 to December 2020, which meant the minimum wage rose by about a tenth in real terms.

The chamber also noted that Slovenia already has one of the smallest differences between the minimum and average wages in the EU. Data from 2019 shows the at risk of poverty rate of those in a job in Slovenia is 3.4%, 15-fold lower than for the unemployed, which shows the minimum wage does it job, said the GZS.

Meanwhile, Branko Meh, the head of the Chamber of Trade Crafts and Small Business (OZS), said they advocated for decent pay and decent work and were not preoccupied that much about the minimum wage.

"However, we do understand large companies, to which a five to ten percent rise in minimum wage means a substantial amount. Some are warning they will be forced into layoffs given such a rise," said Meh.

GZS executive director Mitja Gorenšček noted that the minimum wage could increase further once the government-sponsored bill raising the general income tax relief is adopted.

The new amount of minimum wage is expected to be released in the Official Gazette on 20 January and will apply for work done from 1 January.

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