19 Aug 2021, 14:35 PM

Sale of Most Single-Use Plastics Now Banned in Slovenia, Large Fines for Offenders

STA, 19 August 2021 - The government has banned the sale of single-use plastic products bar a few exceptions. The relevant regulation, endorsed at Wednesday's correspondence session, also prescribes the labelling of certain single-use plastic items and their packaging to raise awareness about recycling.

Products to be banned under the regulation include plastic cutlery, plates and straws as well as ear swabs, except for those used as medical equipment. Also banned are plastic stir sticks and balloon sticks with the exception of those intended for industrial use and not for customers.

The regulation, transposing an EU regulation, also bans expanded polystyrene food and drink packaging and items made of oxo-degradable plastics.

Moreover, it sets out new rules for labelling of some single-use plastic products and their packaging to inform consumers on how to handle waste from such products.

The items that should be labelled include pads, tampons and applicators, wet wipes, tobacco products with filters, filters marketed in combination with tobacco products, and cups.

The ban will take effect fifteen days after the regulation is published in the Official Gazette.

Fines for non-compliance will range up to EUR 15,000 for legal entities, up to EUR 5,000 for sole proprietors and up to EUR 3,000 for the executive or proprietor in charge.

12 Aug 2021, 15:34 PM

STA, 12 August 2021 - There were more than 20,500 job vacancies in Slovenia in the second quarter of the year, up almost 25% from the first quarter, with demand for workers strongest in hospitality and in culture and entertainment. The country's vacancy rate thus rose to a quarterly record of 2.6%, the Statistics Office (SURS) said on Thursday.

As part of the second wave of the epidemic, lockdown restricting some businesses was in place from 19 October 2020 to 16 May 2021, or more than half of quarter two.

But it was in this period that employers started looking for workers more intensively after an almost six-month lull, which made quarter two very dynamic, SURS said on Thursday.

Demand for workers was recorded across all sectors, but doubled in hospitality and in culture and entertainment, both of which were practically fully closed during the epidemic.

A rise in demand for new workers in quarter two increased by 90% or by some 9,700 over the second quarter in 2020, when the country was deep in its first lockdown.

The annual growth was the most robust in manufacturing, which had almost four times more vacancies (nearly 5,800), and in hospitality, which had 1,500, up 25%.

Only electricity supply and education saw lower demand for new workers in quarter two year on year.

The bulk of vacancies available in April-to-June were advertised by employers with ten or more employees - around 12,700 or almost 62% of all vacancies in the country.

Vacancy rate in quarter two rose by 0.5 of a percentage point to a record 2.6% compared with quarter one and by 1.2 percentage point annually.

The quarter two growth was impacted by a considerable rise in vacancies for a second quarter in the year.

Since SURS started carrying out this survey in 2008, the 2.6% vacancy rate was achieved twice before, in the third quarter of 2018 and the first quarter of 2019.

As for occupied posts, deseasoned figures show they increased 6,300 to around 777,200 from quarter one.

In annual comparison, occupied posts rose by almost 14,100 or 1.8%, which was most notable in the construction industry and in health and social care.

In hospitality, the number of occupied posts increased by 2.8% compared with the first quarter, which is less than in the same period last year.

09 Aug 2021, 12:09 PM

STA, 7 August 2021 - The government has adopted a response to the European Commission's warning that Slovenia does not comply with a directive on the status of non-EU citizens who are long-term residents and their right to buy property. The government argues the Slovenian law is not in breach of the directive as it allows this group to rent housing.

Slovenia was warned on 9 June that its legislation sets a number of conditions to this group of foreign citizens to become eligible to buy property.

The Commission admitted that EU member states have discretion to set such conditions for the purpose of integration, but they must be proportionate.

It said that the directive does not allow detouring from the principle of equal treatment on the basis of these conditions.

In its response, the government says that the directive does not oblige a member state to allow these nationals the right to become property owners.

The government maintains that an EU country meets the requirements from the directive by allowing the non-EU citizens with long-term residence status to rent housing.

The directive does not oblige the country to guarantee them the right to buy property unconditionally, that is under the same conditions as EU nationals.

The government adopted the response, which was prepared by the Justice Ministry, at its correspondence session on Friday.

08 Aug 2021, 10:04 AM

STA, 8 August 2021 - The prices of old flats in multi-storey buildings in Ljubljana rose by 48% in the period from 2015 to 2020, after the downward price trend reversed in 2015. The median price per square metre reached nearly EUR 3,000 last year. At EUR 2,960, it was record for a third year in a row and 69% above the median price for entire Slovenia.

As Slovenia's business, administrative and university centre, the capital city has by far the most developed property market in the country, the Mapping and Surveying Authority (GURS) says in the 2020 Slovenian property market report.

In recent years, which have been marked by economic upturn and record low interest rates, demand for housing in Ljubljana has been constantly rising.

People have been buying housing in the capital for their own use, as an investment or for rent.

On the other hand, there has been a shortage of new homes, chiefly as a result of a lack of development projects in 2010-2017, GURS says.

"This quickly resulted in excessive demand for housing and a strong growth of their prices in the capital city."

The median price for flats at multi-storey buildings at national level last year reached a record EUR 1,750 per square metre, but EUR 2,960 in Ljubljana.

The highest median prices in Ljubljana were recorded in the statistical area of the city centre - at EUR 3,280 per square metre.

Poorly maintained flats sold for as low as EUR 2,000 per square metre, while two 100-square-metre flats at Villa Urbana sold at as much as EUR 6,500.

The bulk of flats were meanwhile sold at EUR 2,700 to EUR 3,800 per square metre.

New flats sold from EUR 6,800 in the city centre to EUR 2,800 in the Šiška, Črnuče and Sostro boroughs.

An average price for a new flat was meanwhile EUR 3,200 per square metre, tax included, but without a parking lot.

In the 2015-2020 period, housing prices in Ljubljana posted highest growth rates in 2016 to 2018 - that of 12-15% a year.

Housing transactions meanwhile dropped last year, mostly as a result of the epidemic after they were rising from 2015 to 2017 but them dropped a bit in 2018 and 2019.

Transactions in flats and building land in Ljubljana dropped by 20% each compared to 2019, while the drop in transactions in family houses reached 15%.

07 Aug 2021, 11:04 AM

STA, 7 August 2021 - Ice cream is a popular treat in Slovenia - in 2018, the average consumption of ice cream at home in Slovenia was 3.9 litres of ice cream per person, 1.6 litres more than in 2000. A Slovenian household spends EUR 38 a year on average on ice cream, according to data provided by the Statistics Office.

Ice cream became more expensive last year, with a litre costing an average EUR 3.50 in shops, which is 19 cents more than the year before.

The price of a serving of ice cream with cream in bars and restaurants has also increased. Last year, a portion cost EUR 4.91 on average, 22 cents more than in 2019.

However, ice cream prices have not changed significantly compared to other food products. While food was 9.4% more expensive on average at the end of 2020 compared to 2015, the price of ice cream in shops increased by 0.1%.

Last year, Slovenia imported almost 6,000 tonnes of ice cream, valued at EUR 16 million, while it exported four times as much, almost 24,000 tonnes or EUR 70 million worth of ice cream.

The most exports went to the UK, more than 6,200 tonnes, followed by Germany with 4,200 tonnes. Germany also provided the most of ice cream imports to Slovenia - 1,900 tonnes.

The Statistics Office also found that several names associated with Slovenian ice cream can be found among the inhabitants and settlements in Slovenia.

Some of the best known Slovenian ice cream products bear the names Lučka, Tom, Maxim, Ježek and Kornet. At the beginning of this year, there were 561 women named Lučka, 358 men named Tom and 61 men named Maxim.

Meanwhile, Ježek and Kornet are surnames rather than names, shared by 78 people and 29 people, respectively. Some Slovenian ice cream products are also named after settlements, namely Planica, Otočec and Piran.

05 Aug 2021, 17:06 PM

STA, 5 August 2021 - Property prices kept rising in Slovenia in the coronavirus year 2020 while transactions on the property market decreased. Transactions meanwhile rose in early 2021 to reach approximately the pre-pandemic 2019 levels in April, as prices keep rising, the Mapping and Surveying Authority (GURS) said on Thursday.

The number of housing transactions fell by 17% in 2020 compared to 2019 and business property transactions by 30%, shows the 2020 Slovenian property market report.

"The fall in housing transactions was almost exclusively a result of state-imposed restrictions to contain the epidemic, which limited normal property business for most of the year," GURS said in a statement.

GURS said the large drop in business property transactions revealed the uncertainty of businesses about economic consequences of the epidemic.

Transactions in agricultural land and forests dropped by 12%.

However, the epidemic did not affect demand for housing or building land, as supply of new housing on the market lags behind demand.

As a result, transactions in building land rose by 4%, as more and more people want to build their own family homes.

GURS said this trend is a result of flats in large cities getting more expensive, which drives people to build their homes outside large cities.

Since demand for property outstrips supply especially in urban and tourist areas, prices are growing.

"There is a lot of demand for housing despite high prices because of historically low interest rates and a lot of household savings."

GURS said that low interest rates encourage purchases of homes for own use and as investment.

Housing prices and prices of building land increased by 3-4% in 2020, practically around the entire country, while the growth would have probably been heftier in the absence of the epidemic.

Housing prices continued growing in the first quarter of 2021, also as a result of considerable growth in building material prices, a trend fuelled by a global rise in the prices of transport and materials due to the pandemic.

There are however considerable differences in property prices around the country.

The highest prices have been recorded in Ljubljana, municipalities in Gorenjska region (Kranjska Gora, Bled) or coastal tourism municipalities (Portorož, Piran), as well as in the broader area around Ljubljana (Lavrica, Škofljica, Brezovica, Grosuplje, Domžale, Trzin, Mengeš and Medvode) and in Kranj.

"In these areas the prices have increased the most in the past five years. The exception is the coastal area, where the still hefty growth was not among the heftiest, which means that housing prices in Kranjska Gora and Bled have recently exceeded the prices on the coast."

GURS recorded around 31,800 property transactions in 2020 in the total value of EUR 2.2 billion, down 13% and 21%, respectively, over 2019.

Both figures were lowest after 2015, when the Slovenian property market witnessed a turn in price growth.

Housing transactions accounted for almost EUR 1.5 billion, or two-thirds of the total value of transactions.

03 Aug 2021, 16:22 PM

STA, 3 August 2021 - Beer lovers, brewers, hop growers and pub owners will celebrate International Beer Day on Friday. Last year, there were 68 companies in Slovenia with beer production as their main activity, compared to only 12 in 2010, according to the Statistics Office. According to 2018 data, Slovenians consume 26 litres of beer at home on average per year.

Slovenia's beer exports surpassed imports last year. According to the statisticians, Slovenia exported EUR 44.7 million worth of beer, the most in 10 years, with imports standing at EUR 26.2 million.

In value terms, Slovenia's beer exports were up 19% compared to 2019, while imports were down 3%. Most of the exports went to Croatia (27%), followed by Italy (21%) and Bosnia and Herzegovina (21%). Meanwhile, the most imports came from Austria (40%), Croatia (21%) and the Czech Republic (9%).

The beer trade is at its busiest in the summer months of June, July and August. In 2020, Slovenia exported 44% of its total annual beer exports during these months (with July being the peak month) and imported 33% of its total annual beer imports.

Beer prices have not changed significantly in Slovenia over the last ten years, either in restaurants or in shops. Last year, the average price of a pint of light beer in a pub was EUR 2.93. In shops, the average price of a pint of beer made in Slovenia was EUR 0.88.

Slovenia is one of the EU's largest hop producers after Germany and the Czech Republic. In 2020, Slovenia produced 2.723 tonnes of hops (up 6%), even though the growing area was 8% smaller than in 2019, as the hops were cultivated on 1,489 hectares.

As is the case with beer, Slovenia is primarily an export-oriented country, exporting most of the hops it produces. Last year, most hops were exported to Germany, accounting for 37% of the total.

29 Jul 2021, 14:26 PM

STA, 29 July 2021 - The group Telekom Slovenije generated EUR 317.6 million in sales revenue in the first half of the year, down 1% from the same period in 2020. Net profit was up by 44% to EUR 21.3 million, Telekom said on Thursday.

"The Covid-19 pandemic had an impact on revenue in 2021, through lower revenues from our users roaming in foreign operators' networks, and foreign users roaming in our mobile networks, along with lower revenue from IT licenses," the group said in a press release published on the web site of the Ljubljana Stock Exchange.

The unaudited business results were endorsed by the supervisors on Wednesday.

From January to June, earnings before interest, taxes (EBIT) amounted to EUR 29.3 million, which is the same as in the same period last year. Taking into account one-off events from 2020, EBIT in 2021 would have been 26% higher, compared to the same period last year, the group said.

The group's earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) was up by 1% to EUR 113.7 million. Taking into account one-off events from 2020, it would have been 6% higher year on year.

The group's net profit would have been 22% higher than in the first six months of 2020.

The core company Telekom Slovenije generated 3% lower sales revenue than in the same period last year, at EUR 287.3 million.

EBITDA dropped by 2% to EUR 94 million and EBIT was down 16% to EUR 23.7 million. Net profit was up 87% to EUR 28.5 million.

"Regardless of the challenges related to the Covid-19 pandemic, Telekom Slovenije Group remains financially stable and continues to adapt its activities to the changing market conditions, while carefully monitoring and assessing the risks in supply chain, credit risk, system operations and the profitability of individual services," Telekom wrote.

At the end of the year, the group expects to post EUR 653 million in revenue, EUR 210.6 million in EBITDA and EUR 30.8 million in net profit. It plans to allocate EUR 203.7 million for investment.

The supervisors gave the green light yesterday to the appointment of Rajko Gerič as the CEO of the company TSmedia for a four-year term staring on 1 August, and the appointment of Sandra Peršak as the CEO of the company TSinpo, also starting her four-year term next month.

The appointment of Mitja Štular as the head of the company GVO as of 1 August was also confirmed. Štular, a member of the Telekom Slovenije management board, will lead GVO until a new CEO is appointed, expectedly until 1 September, when Zef Vučaj is to be appointed.

The supervisors also cleared the appointment of Simon Furlan as the head of the companies Siol Beograd, Siol Podgorica, Siol Sarajevo, Siol Dooel Skopje, Siol Zagreb and Siol Prishtina.

29 Jul 2021, 11:06 AM

STA, 29 July 2021 - Slovenia's pharma group Krka Group saw its net profit rise by 11% to EUR 177.4 million in the first six months on record sales revenue of EUR 808.6 million, according to unaudited data.

Sales revenue was up by 1% compared to the same period last year and 6% higher than in the first six months of 2019, Krka said in a press release published on the web site of the Ljubljana Stock Exchange after the supervisors reviewed the results on Wednesday.

The group generated 95% of sales in markets outside Slovenia.

In East Europe, the group's largest region in terms of sales, sales revenue was up 2% to EUR 276.5 million. In Russia, sales dropped by 7% to EUR 168.2 million while the sales in local currency were up by 10%.

In Central Europe, which includes the Visegrad Group countries and Baltic countries, sales were up by 3% to EUR 188.9 million. In Poland, revenue increased by 2% to EUR 87.6 million.

Western Europe was the only region to see a drop in revenue, by 12% to EUR 159.6 million, reportedly due to the absence of new calls for applications. However, sales were up in the UK, France, Ireland and Austria. But they were the highest in Germany and France, Krka said.

In South East Europe, sales increased by 8% to EUR 112.3 million.

In Slovenia, EUR 41.8 million in sales was generated, up 9% from the same period last year. The revenue from products sale reached EUR 28.4 million and from spa and tourist services EUR 13.3 million.

Krka Group sold EUR 27.5 million worth of products overseas, which is 14% more than in the first half of 2020.

Operating profit before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) totalled EUR 255 million, 7% down on the first half of 2020. Operating profit (EBIT) reached EUR 200.5 million, a 7% decrease year on year.

Due to favourable exchange rate movements, a positive net financial result of EUR 6.7 million was generated.

The core company generated EUR 711.8 million in sales revenue, down 9% from the first six months of 2020. Net profit dropped by 1% to EUR 154.6 million.

EBITDA decreased by 17% to EUR 208.7 million, while EBIT was down 20% to around EUR 166 million.

The group, which had 11,607 employees at the end of June or 12,524 if agency workers are included, allocated EUR 29.5 million for investment in the first six months, including EUR 22.5 million in the controlling company. Development costs totalled EUR 75.6 million.

The group plans to generate EUR 1.535 billion in sales revenue this year and some EUR 265 million in profit.

CEO Jože Colarič labelled the results as excellent, saying the group would continue on this path.

The supervisors also endorsed Colarič's proposal to grant another term to management board members Aleš Rotar, Vinko Zupančič and David Bratož.

23 Jul 2021, 13:01 PM

STA, 23 July 2021 - Slovenia's tourism is beginning to pick up with fresh statistics showing visitor numbers rose by well over 50% and nights spent at tourism accommodation facilities by almost 70% year-on-year in June.

Arrivals were up by 54.7% to over 375,000 and nights spent rose by 66.7% compared with June last year to over a million, data from the Statistics Office show.

Slovenian tourists accounted for 69% of the nights spent. Most of those were spent in the coastal municipalities of Piran and Izola and Brežice in the east, known for the spa Terme Čatež.

The number of domestic tourists rose by 62% year-on-year to almost 249,100 as foreign visitor numbers increased by 42% to just over 126,000. The latter accounted for just over 317,500 nights spent.

Germans accounted for 20% of the nights spent by foreign tourists, followed by Austrians (15%), Hungarians (9%), Czechs (7%) and Italians (6%).

Both domestics and foreign guests spent most of their nights in Piran (121,800 and 48,200, respectively), however, while other coastal and spa destinations followed as their destinations of choice for Slovenian guests, foreign guests preferred Ljubljana, Bled, Bovec and Bohinj as their other choices.

Hotels were where the 39% of the nights were spent, followed by private rooms, apartments and houses (22%) and campsites (18%).

In the first half of the year tourism accommodation facilities recorded some 572,700 arrivals and 1.7 million nights spent, which is down 38% and 33% year-on-year, respectively. 66% of the nights spent were by locals.

23 Jul 2021, 12:43 PM

STA, 22 July 2021 - The government has added cross-border workers to the list of exceptions for quarantine-free entry to Slovenia if they do not have a Covid certificate. The exception will apply to workers who live up to ten kilometres from the national border.

Under the decree adopted on Thursday, cross-border workers employed in one of the member states of the EU or the Schengen Area are permitted to enter Slovenia under these conditions.

Their residence in Slovenia, though, needs to be not farther than ten kilometres away from the national border. The distance from the border, measured as the crow flies, will be determined with Google maps.

Cross-border worker are required to return within five days after they cross into another country. It is a temporary exception that is expected to be in force until 15 August, and not later than until 1 September, the Government Communication Office said.

As of 15 July, Slovenia no longer applies lists of countries relative to the epidemiological situation, as all persons entering the country must produce a certificate proving that they have been tested, recovered or vaccinated against Covid-19. Otherwise they are ordered to quarantine.

So far, the exceptions applied to children under 15, owners of property both sides of the borders and people who are transiting through Slovenia. There has been significant criticism as to cross-border workers having not been put among the exceptions.

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