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29 Apr 2022, 14:12 PM

STA, 28 April 2022 - The government has extended the validity of reduced excise duties on electricity, motor fuels, heating oil and natural gas for heating for three more months until 31 July.

The reduced excise duties on energy products first kicked in on 1 February as part of a package of measures to mitigate the impact of energy price hikes on the population and businesses.

The government later also capped the retail and wholesale prices of regular petrol and diesel fuel. It has recently also extended the cap on the prices of heating oil by another month.

Announcing a new extension of the reduced excise duties after the cabinet session on Thursday, the Finance Ministry said it was trying to help the population and businesses cope with the high oil prices by fiscal policy measures as well.

The reduced excise duties are 35.9 cents per litre of petrol, 33 cents per litre of diesel, 7.875 cents per litre of heating oil and 85.5 cents per megawatt hour of natural gas for heating.

Unless the government extends by the end of this month administered prices of most motor fuels, these are expected to go up next week.

Estimates by the newspaper Finance show petrol prices could exceed EUR 1.60 a litre on 1 May unless the government extends the price cap. Diesel could cost EUR 1.82 a litre, taking into account reduced excise.

As of February the excise duty on electricity was reduced from EUR 3.05 per MWh to EUR 1.525 per MWh for small consumers and from EUR 1.80 to EUR 0.90 per MWh for large consumers (over 10.000 MWh per year).

The reduced duty has been extended by three months, while the temporary freeze on network charges remains in force until the end of April.

Asked about a potential extension or new measures to mitigate price hikes beyond the planned periods, the Infrastructure Ministry has not provided an answer.

At the beginning of April, Prime Minister Janez Janša said the government would continue to intervene as long as necessary to contain high electricity prices, until these are reduced through a change in the European formula for the calculation of electricity prices. The funds were to come from state-owned power producers.

21 Apr 2022, 11:25 AM

STA, 21 April 2022 - The government has extended the regulation of heating oil prices under which retailers' margin is capped at six cents per litre. The decree entered into force today and is valid for 30 days.

The base price to which the margin is added is calculated as a 14-day average price that takes into account prices on Mediterranean markets, the euro-dollar exchange rate and several other variables.

Heating oil price regulation was introduced in November to stem the rise of energy prices. Fuel prices remain regulated as well.

10 Apr 2022, 19:17 PM

STA, 10 April 2022 - Slovenia's jobless total dropped to some 60,000 in March in what is the second lowest figure on record, but only 16-17% of the registered unemployed were directly employable. As many as 56% of them are long-term unemployed, an issue that poses a challenge for the authorities.

The jobless total is near the all-time low recorded in September 2008. However, as unemployment declines, the share of the long-term unemployed increases.

Nearly 32% of all jobless were registered as long-term unemployed in 2020, 44% last year and 56% this year, the Employment Service said earlier this week.

The long-term unemployed are those who have been out of work for at least a year, and there are people in Slovenia who have been on the dole for as long as five or even ten years.

Employment Service director Mitja Bobnar said that long-term unemployment will be a main challenge in the future.

According to him, the vast majority of the unemployed, more than 80%, are not immediately employable but need additional help from counsellors to find their way in the labour market.

These include the elderly, young people with no education or with qualifications that are not in demand, and people with disabilities who need special treatment, he said.

Active employment policies play an important role in employment of the long-term unemployed as they significantly improve their prospects, said Damjana Košir, head of employment at the Employment Service. A total of 5,645 unemployed people were included in active employment policies in the first three months of 2022.

Subsidised employment is another measure that is producing results. Almost 90% of young people participating in such programmes retain their jobs after the subsidy period ends. The same applies to nearly 65% of vulnerable groups that are part of a special programme.

08 Apr 2022, 15:50 PM

STA, 8 April 2022 - The state-owned power utility HSE launched on Friday a 3.036-megawatt solar power plant in a rehabilitated and closed section of the Prapretno landfill near Hrastnik. The largest facility of the kind in the country, worth EUR 2.5 million, is expected to provide electricity for around 800 households.

A total of 6,748 photovoltaic modules installed at the former brownfield site will produce more than 3 GWh of electricity a year, and the plan is to expand it to a total installed power of 14 megawatts.

HSE said that the launch of the solar power plant in the former coal mining region was an investment in security of electricity supply that followed EU guidelines on reducing carbon emissions.

HTZ, a subsidiary of the coal mine operator Premogovnik Velenje, was hired to supply the equipment and install and launch the power plant.

The opening ceremony was attended by Prime Minister Janez Janša, who noted that Slovenia now had sustainable and green energy sources at its disposal after decades of production of electricity mainly from fossil fuel sources.

He added that the state would give back to regions where coal had been extracted for electricity production by providing funds from the Just Transition Fund.

The prime minister noted that the energy crisis in the aftermath of Russia's attack on Ukraine made the resources Slovenia had at home more valuable today than in the past, adding that Slovenia needed to continue to build small hydro and solar power plants.

HSE director general Viktor Vračar said that the new installation pursued the objective of secure and reliable electricity supply, adding that international events had forced Slovenia to strategically restructure its energy sector.

The goal is decarbonisation and reduced dependence on foreign energy, and this means investment, he said, adding that the ECB had assessed that EUR 350 billion was needed for this over the next decade.

Hrastnik Mayor Marko Funkl added that the municipality would establish this month an energy cooperative for the "transition from brown to green" that would build the largest cooperative solar power plant in the country.

The 300 KW array will be installed on the roof of a local primary school, Funkl said, adding that "energy is returning to the Zasavje region in green form."

08 Apr 2022, 11:12 AM

STA, 7 April 2022 - The government on Thursday adopted a bill that would impose a 5% tax on natural persons when they turn their cryptocurrency into a fiat currency or buy goods or services, but only if the sum exceeds EUR 10,000 a year.

The government proposed the bill be rushed through the National Assembly. When passed, the tax would apply to the sums redeemed since the date it came into effect.

The Finance Ministry estimates the budget receipts from the new taxation would amount to at least EUR 1 million a year in the first few years.

A release from the government says the bill tackles taxation of virtual currencies on redemption "in an administratively simple and understandable way" while securing fiscal revenue resulting from the tax.

"The regulation of this area will improve Slovenia's competitive position in taxation of virtual currencies, especially in light of the increasingly uncertain situation on the global financial markets, where virtual currencies are gaining ground, which also increases the opportunity costs borne by the state due to untimely taxation of this new source of tax revenue," the release reads.

The new tax would apply to natural persons who pay taxes in Slovenia when they exchange cryptocurrency for a fiat currency and transfer the proceeds to a transaction account or buy goods, services or other assets with cryptocurrency.

The tax would not apply to legal entities which have cryptocurrency recorded as their assets or for individuals who hold cryptocurrency as their business assets.

A natural person who buys and sells cryptocurrency in their own name and on their own account would not be considered to be carrying out a business activity, regardless of the number of cryptocurrency transactions carried out.

The tax liability would arise the moment the virtual currency is redeemed, unless in case of a proven loss. At the same time, each natural person could redeem EUR 10,000 worth of virtual currencies a year tax-free.

The tax base would be determined by deducting the EUR 10,000 exemption from the sum of the value of all the cryptocurrency liquidated in a calendar year. Of that base 5% tax would be paid.

The individuals concerned would be able to submit a tax return once a year or each time after liquidating virtual currency. At any rate they would be required to pay tax within 30 days after submitting the return.

The government proposes the law take effect on the 15th day after its publication in the Official Gazette. Even though it would not be valid for the entire calendar year of 2022, the government proposes the exemption apply in the full EUR 10,000 even that year.

Individuals who do not have a business currently do not pay tax for turning cryptocurrencies into liquidity. The Financial Administration examines case by case whether the person is involved in business activity, taking into account the number of transactions and the sum liquidated.

06 Apr 2022, 12:36 PM

STA, 5 April 2022 - The Employment Service has registered first Ukrainian refugees seeking jobs in Slovenia as demand from employers, in particular in the hospitality industry, remains high. Language is one of the main challenges.

To get on the register of the unemployed, refugees from Ukraine need temporary protection status. Once awarded the status they also get the right to enter the labour market.

The Employment Service started intensive preparations for the inflow of Ukrainian refugees into its register in March. So far fewer than five have registered, the service's director general Mitja Bobnar told reporters on Tuesday.

To ease the refugees' entry into the labour market, the service has published guidance and instructions in Ukrainian online as well as a glossary to help them learn Slovenian which they distributed to the service's regional offices.

Its officials have visited the refugee centres in Logatec south-west of Ljubljana and Debeli Rtič at the seaside to dispense basic information. They also plan to open an info point shortly.

Damjana Košir, the head of the employment system, said Ukrainian refugees would get the same treatment as other unemployed, complete with an employment plan defining employment goals and a job referral.

Two key challenges detected during visits to the refugee centres are that the refugees as a rule do not have proof of their qualification or education and mostly do not speak English or Slovenian.

Employer representatives have let them know they find work experience more important than qualification. The available qualification proof is verified by the ENIC-NARIC centre.

As a priority the Employment Service will refer Ukrainian refugees to take Slovenian language courses as third-country citizens are required to pass at least Slovenian A1 level exam within a year after getting registered as unemployed.

They will also benefit from various other language courses, workshops and programmes.

There has been considerable demand for Ukrainian labour force, in particular in tourism and bar, restaurants and hotels sector. The Employment Service has promised to check the companies they will refer the refugees to.

Dewesoft, the high-tech company which operates a subsidiary in Russia, said today they would employ suitably qualified staff from the conflict region.

06 Apr 2022, 12:21 PM

STA, 5 April 2022 - The French car manufacturer Renault has concluded an agreement with the Israeli Taavura Group to sell it the dealership of the Renault Group in Slovenia, which imports and distributes the Renault, Dacia and Alpine marques. Taavura Group is also to become the new distributor of Nissan vehicles in Slovenia.

The agreement with Renault has been concluded as part of restructuring of distribution in the group, the Renault Group said on Tuesday.

It added that the Taavura Group had been picked due to its good knowledge of car distribution, which would be further improved by the local team and a strong partnership with the sales and service network.

The Israeli group will take over all current employees for imports and distribution in the Slovenian branch and all activities of the sales and service network in Slovenia.

The management of Renault Nissan Slovenija meanwhile announced that the Taavura Group would be a new distributor of Nissan vehicles, spare parts and other services for Slovenia.

It will also take over Nissan's sales and service activities in Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Montenegro, Kosovo, Albania and North Macedonia.

It added that the Taavura Group would be a strong partner of Nissan in Slovenia with its expertise in the automotive business, focus on customers and progressive sale approach. "The Nissan brand will be strengthened and will contribute to sustainable growth."

Ken Lalo, the CEO of the Taavura Group's automotive division, said he was honoured to expand the partnership with the Nissan brand to other European countries.

He said that the partnership with Nissan and dealers in Slovenia and other countries would enable the group to focus on customer satisfaction and achieving the priorities of the Nissan Next plan in these markets.

As the deal needs to be approved by the Competition Protection Agency, the company is expected to start operating under the new owner at the beginning of the summer.

05 Apr 2022, 12:36 PM

STA, 4 April 2022 - Croatian group Fortenova has become the sole shareholder of Slovenia's largest retailer Mercator after squeezing out all remaining small shareholders, leading to a suspension of trading on the Ljubljana Stock Exchange pending a decision on delisting.

The company, which owned roughly 90% of Mercator prior to the squeeze-out, said that it had paid EUR 22.4 million for the outstanding shares.

The transaction completes a process that began in 2014 with the purchase of Mercator by Croatian retailer Agrokor, said Fabris Peruško, the chief executive of Fortenova, a company that took over Agrokor's healthy assets when it went bankrupt.

"This was a long and demanding process with many legal and financial steps, all of which led to the final goal - the creation of a leading regional grocery retail chain," he was quoted as saying.

04 Apr 2022, 11:49 AM

STA, 2 April 2022 - Prime Minister Janez Janša has announced that the government will continue to intervene as long as necessary to contain high electricity prices. The main problem, in his view, is the European formula to calculate electricity prices that takes into account gas prices, but the formula is about to change.

"Until the formula is changed and this has not stabilised prices, we will continue to intervene," Janša said on Friday evening at a public debate in Vrhnika that wrapped up the government's visit to the southern communities of central Slovenia.

Under a legislative package passed in late January to mitigate high energy prices, electricity bills have been cut for the cost of network fees for three months until the end of April. Government data shows the measure reduced the bills by almost 40%.

Janša promised the government would continue to intervene. "We will take funds to finance the gap from the surpluses generated because Slovenian power producers are charging higher prices for electricity. Considering these are mainly state-owned companies, we will reallocate these funds," he said.

The main reason for high electricity prices on the European market is the formula, which Slovenia sought to change last year during its presidency of the Council of the EU. After several countries called for change in February this year, the European Commission decided to draw up a new formula, which is expected to come into force in May or June, he said.

"Prices will then be lower on the European market. They will not be what they were before the shock due to the war in Ukraine and the spike in energy consumption driven by the post-pandemic recovery and more money in circulation," Janša added.

The three-month freeze on electricity network charges is being challenged at the Constitutional Court by an association of small shareholders who hold stakes in electricity distribution companies.

02 Apr 2022, 10:24 AM

STA, 1 April 2022 - Slovenian meat processing companies large and small have raised prices of their product by up to 30%, or plan price hikes in the near future, as they attempt to offset the rising cost of inputs such as energy and transportation.

Celjske Mesnine has already raised prices of pork, beef and processed products by 30%, and the Maribor company Košaki raised theirs by 10-30%.

"Sharply rising prices of pigs and cattle have forced us to raise our prices," Marko Žerak, the owner of Košaki, told the STA.

Perutnina Ptuj, the country's largest producer of poultry, and Pivka Delamaris, a poultry and fish processing company, plan price hikes in the coming months.

The price rises are not fully spilling over into retail prices yet.

Urška Žolnir Jugovar, a spokeswoman for Celjske Mesnine, says companies are working with retailers to try to keep price rises to a minimum.

Similarly, Meso Kamnik said it was rising prices gradually to mitigate the impact on consumers.

"Producers are rising prices with a delay and at the minimum rate ... and retailers are adjusting their pricing policy with lower margins and discounts," the company said.

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