16 May 2022, 10:50 AM

STA, 16 May 2022 - Home appliances producer Gorenje, which is part of the Hisense Europe group, has overtaken drug makers Lek and Krka to become the country's biggest exporter in 2021, with exports totalling almost two billion euros, according to data gathered by Delo.

Lek is in second place with EUR 1.59 billion and Krka right behind with exports worth EUR 1.47 billion. The only other company to break the one-billion mark is the Renault-owned car assembly plant Revoz with EUR 1.18 billion.

Revoz saw its export revenue decrease compared to 2021, whereas Lek and Krka posted solid gains and Gorenje reported an increase in exports of over 70% on the year before.

"In the first Covid year in 2020 there was a disastrous decline in orders, but in 2021 orders in the white goods segment surged. None of these years was typical. Demand is already tapering off this year," Gorenje said.

Steel group SIJ is in fifth place with EUR 820 million worth of exports, followed closely by aluminium producer Impol (EUR 800 million).

The top ten is rounded off by Caravan maker Adria Mobil (EUR 538 million), home appliances maker BSH Hišni Aparati (EUR 535), the industrial conglomerate Kolektor (EUR 351 million) and Mahle Electric Drives (EUR 324 million).

12 May 2022, 13:09 PM

STA, 12 May 2022 - There were a record 24,600 job vacancies in the first quarter of the year in Slovenia, up 6% from the fourth quarter last year and almost 50% more than in the same quarter in 2021, the Statistics Office (SURS) said on Thursday.

"The number of vacancies thus reached the highest level since this survey was launched in 2008. Vacancies grew from one quarter to another throughout 2021, continuing into the start of this year," SURS said.

Stronger demand for new workers was recorded in most sectors; compared to the fourth quarter last year, construction companies had almost 5,400 vacancies in the first quarter of this year, up 710, with 50% more jobs advertised in the IT sector.

Employers in other miscellaneous activities were meanwhile slightly more reserved to seeking new workers in quarter-one, with fewer than 1,800 jobs available, a drop of nearly 600.

The annual comparison for the entire country shows that demand for new labour increased by 49%, which translates into 8,100 more vacancies; the biggest rise was recorded in construction, which had 2,200 more vacancies.

"The annual comparison shows that this time there was more demand than a year ago in all sectors except mining and public administration," SURS wrote.

The vacancy rate meanwhile exceeded 3% for the first time in January-March, reaching a record 7.6% in construction, more than double the Slovenian average.

10 May 2022, 17:06 PM

STA, 10 May 2022 -  The government reintroduced price caps on motor fuels on Tuesday, setting the maximum retail prices at EUR 1.560 a litre for regular petrol and EUR 1.668 a litre for diesel. Wholesale prices are capped at EUR 1.540 for regular and EUR 1.648 for diesel. The caps will come into effect on Wednesday.

A release issued after the cabinet's correspondence session said the government reintroduced temporary administrative pricing for the two most popular fuels in view of the well-founded expectations of further disruptions in the market of oil products and significant price volatility in response to the planned EU embargo on Russian oil imports.

The Economy Ministry also said the measure was aimed at stabilising the market and prices for the benefit of businesses and consumers.

The regulation imposing the caps requires of companies to continue to sell their goods regardless of the cap on whole- and retail-sale prices. They will thus be eligible for compensation for the damage, to be set by the government once the measure expires.

The maximum retail price was set on the basis of the latest seven-day average representative price of petroleum products for Slovenia as reported to the European Commission in the Weekly Oil Bulletin. The maximum wholesale prices are by two cents per litre below the retail price caps, which the government finds makes it possible to sell petroleum products to small traders.

The regulation on the price caps was published in the Official Gazette today and will come into effect tomorrow. It will be in force for three months, that is by 10 August.

The Economy Ministry gave an assessment of the fiscal impact of re-regulation of prices in the documents released by the government.

Three leading fuel retailers (Petrol operates 318 service stations, OMV 120 and MOL Slovenija 53 stations) estimate the financial damage to their business as a result of the cap on retail prices at about EUR 30 million a month, which does not include the damage in case of a cap on wholesale prices.

In case of price controls and retailer obligation to sell at regulated prices at the cost of substantial damage to business, the price control act provides for compensation. It could cost the state at least EUR 30 million a month, and prices had already been capped much lower from mid-March to the end of April.

The reintroduction of price caps had been hinted at by PM Janez Janša on Twitter earlier today after Robert Golob, the most plausible candidate for the new prime minister, announced yesterday his centre-left government would impose energy price regulation, targetting not just fuel but other energy sources as well.

The outgoing government imposed temporary caps on fuel prices on 14 March, capping the price of regular at the pump at EUR 1.503 and diesel at EUR 1.541 a litre. The measure expired at the end of April, and the government's decision not to extend it sent fuel prices soaring.

Regular sold at filling stations operated by Petrol and MOL Slovenija outside motorways today cost EUR 1.717 a litre, and diesel EUR 1.862 a litre. OMV Slovenija sells fuel at EUR 1.714 and diesel at EUR 1.856. Prices at service stations on motorways are even higher

10 May 2022, 13:08 PM

STA 10 May 2022 - Prices of petroleum products increased again on Tuesday after surging on 1 May when the government lifted a 45-day price cap. The prices of regular petrol rose from 6.0 to 6.5 cents per litre, while diesel went up a bit less. Robert Golob, the most likely new PM-elect, has announced his government will re-introduce price regulation.

A litre of regular petrol outside motorways and expressways now costs EUR 1.717 at Petrol and MOL Slovenija filling stations and EUR 1.714 at OMV Slovenija's, which is around 6 cents more than on Monday. The price of regular along motorways is around EUR 1.78 at all three largest providers.

A litre of diesel cost just over EUR 1.85 on Monday outside motorways and expressways, while it is now at EUR 1.862 at Petrol and MOL Slovenija's stations and EUR 1.856 at OMV Slovenija. Along the motorways, diesel costs just over EUR 1.92.

Fuel prices surged when the price regulation was lifted, with regular petrol rising by about 8% and diesel by more than 20% on 1 May.

The Janez Janša government introduced a cap on energy prices in mid-March to mitigate the rising prices of energy on global markets.

When deciding against extending the cap at the end April, it said the markets had stabilised over the past month and a half.

Prices are thus expected to be further rising, especially in case of an embargo on Russian oil.

However, Freedom Movement leader Golob said on Monday the new government would introduce energy price regulation, targetting not just fuel but also other energy sources.

Asked whether prices would be just regulated or also subsidised, he said it was necessary to see what the situation in the world and in neighbouring countries will be.

The Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GZS) meanwhile urged the government "to temporarily regulate prices on the wholesale market and compensates oil traders".

"This would limit the uncontrolled fuel price rises and as a consequence curb the general rise in the prices of services and products," the GZS said in Tuesday's release.

The chamber argues that higher fuel prices have a major impact on the commercial transport sector, rising prices of transport services, which causes a spiral of price hikes in other sectors and making most goods and services more expensive.

A GZS analysis has shown the price of fuel represents as much as 30% of the cost of the price of transport, "which means many transport providers are forced to consider rising the price of transport services to remain profitable".

09 May 2022, 13:50 PM

STA, 9 May 2022 - Slovenian Michelin starred chef Ana Roš will open a restaurant in a luxury coastal resort in Croatia's Savudrija next year, the Croatian newspaper Glas Istre reports. The Petram Resort & Residences, a project by Serbian businessman Miodrag Kostić, is one of the largest investments in the Croatian hospitality sector so far.

"If we sign the agreement, which is 95% certain, we will open the restaurant by June 2023," Roš, whose Hiša Franko in Kobarid boasts two Michelin stars, told the paper.

The Savudrija restaurant will offer a relaxed atmosphere with food based on Istrian ingredients. "It will be a different story, a different approach to gastronomy, a relaxed restaurant for holidaymakers. There will be no 23-course menus but two- or three-course meals. It will still be top-quality, serious food, but in a more relaxed version," she said.

The restaurant will be located by the 105-metre infinity pool of the resort, the second longest infinity pool in the world, offering views of Piran, Trieste and the Dolomites.

The resort will boast 55 luxury villas, 179 suites and 18 apartments.

Roš has been celebrated for years, having been named the World's Best Female Chef by the World's 50 Best Restaurants culinary portal in 2017 and a year later made the Best Chef Awards list of 300 top chefs in the world.

Her Hiša Franko was awarded two Michelin stars in 2020 and has kept them both in the new edition of the Michelin Guide Slovenia.

09 May 2022, 12:20 PM

STA, 9 May 2022 - The Financial Administration has set up a special portal to advertise and auction off properties seized from tax offenders. The first online action will take place on on 20 May.

The portal features a section listing foreclosed properties that are up for sale and a section where public online auctions are held live in real time.

"Prospective buyers will be able to access information at a single secure gateway. At the same time they will be able to apply for and take part in a public online auction from the same gateway. Bidding will be anonymous," FURS said in a press release on Monday.

They believe such a solution reduces the risk of collusion between potential buyers compared to a traditional public auction, thus making auctions more effective.

The part of the portal where property is advertised for sale is public and can be accessed without registration or identification.

Access to the part where auctions are held is restricted to pre-registered users, who have to register with their electronic identities.

The site is available in several languages – just look for the flag in the top right corner

08 May 2022, 15:18 PM

STA, 7 May 2022 - GEN-I is joining the natural gas suppliers that have already increased prices over the last heating season, announcing a 1 July price hike for "old" clients after raising the price for households and small businesses that switched to GEN-I after 25 February already in winter.

The new price will be EUR 0.060 per kilowatt-hour VAT included, up from EUR 0.032, according to a price list posted on GEN-I's website on Friday. The price without the 22% VAT rate will be EUR 0,049.

This price has already been charged to clients that switched to GEN-I after 25 February, while the existing clients had been guaranteed the old price until the summer.

The clients who signed the contract with GEN-I before 25 February currently pay EUR 0.026 per kWh (VAT excluded), or EUR 0.032 with the tax.

The price will thus be by some 85% higher. But since it accounts for only around 40% of the final bill, bills for clients will be in fact by only around a third higher.

GEN-I said it was regularly monitoring the situation in Europe and the world that impacts the prices of energy products.

While the prices reached historic highs in the second half of 2021, the situation was expected to stabilise after the winter months. However, the war in Ukraine has exacerbated the situation, and therefore "we need to adapt and align our prices to the changes in the purchasing markets", the company said.

Some other suppliers increased natural gas prices for households and small businesses before, with the latest increases coming as of May.

Petrol initially announced new price hikes for April, but postponed them to May, when the heating season practically ends, to soften the blow to its clients.

Its new price is EUR 0.051 per kWh VAT included, up from EUR 0.037.

The government has recently extended for another three months - until the end of July - the regulation reducing excise duties on energy products, including electricity, motor fuels, heating oil and natural gas.

It has, however, decided against extending the cap on regular petrol and diesel, which pushed the retail prices to new highs on 1 May.

06 May 2022, 07:51 AM

STA, 5 May 2022 - As a blanket ban on hydraulic fracturing in Slovenia entered into force on Thursday, the UK investor Ascent Resources, which is still in dispute with the state over the granting of permit to extract gas by means of fracking in Petišovci (NE), said it remained committed to defending its EUR 50 million investment.

"Ascent Resources and its subsidiary Ascent Slovenia have formally notified the Slovenian government of further breaches under the UK-Slovenia bilateral investment treaty and the Energy Charter Treaty," the company said in a press release published on its website.

It added that the government had been notified that the amendments to the mining act that "specifically prohibit holders of mining rights from carrying out the exploration or exploitation of hydrocarbons with the use of any hydraulic stimulation" had caused further considerable harm to its investment in Slovenia.

Ascent Resources said that it remained committed to defending its investment of over EUR 50 million in Slovenia and that it would "vigorously pursue its damages claim through in international arbitration".

It added that it sincerely hoped that an amicable solution to the dispute could be found and following the failure of earlier negotiations with the government, it welcomes any constructive proposals that compensate it for its losses.

Ascent Resources announced it would initiate arbitration proceedings against Slovenia over the dispute in March 2021 after the state had failed to set forward a damages proposal. The company has estimated damage to be in excess of EUR 100 million.

The announcement came after the Slovenian Environment Agency issued a decision that an environmental impact assessment is needed before a permit can be issued for extraction of gas in Petišovci by re-stimulating two currently producing wells as planned by Ascent Resources and its Slovenian partner Geoenergo.

05 May 2022, 13:24 PM

STA, 4 May 2022 - The Slovenian central bank will adjust its macroprudential policy as risks to financial stability stemming from the property market are increasing. It will however give banks more discretion over who they lend money to, while requiring that they increase their capital buffer.              

From July, banks will be able to lend money to customers who are not considered creditworthy under current rules, that is customers who are left with only 76% of the gross minimum wage plus the amount for dependent family members after paying their monthly instalment.

However, banks will be able to opt for this exemption for only up to 10% of their transactions, Primož Dolenc, an adviser at Banka Slovenije, told the press on Wednesday.

Loan contracts for residential housing fully secured by a state guarantee will be exempt from the restrictions on retail lending.

This exemption also applies to loans taken under the law on the housing guarantee scheme for the young, which enters into force tomorrow.

Also from July, the recommended loan-to-value ratio for a second or any subsequent piece of property will be reduced from 80% to 70%.

Nevertheless, the current recommendation that the ratio should not exceed 80% will continue to apply to those who borrow to buy their first home.

To increase the resilience of banks to rising risks related to retail lending and developments in the housing market, banks will have to convert part of their capital they already hold voluntarily into mandatory capital from next year.

Banka Slovenije has given them some time to adjust to this, while it estimates that no bank will need a capital injection to meet the new standard.

The central bank has noted a steep rise in prices of property, which it estimates to be already overpriced, as well as a steep rise in housing loans.

Housing loans to households have increased to 9.1% since the end of 2021, and to 10.2% since February.

While the central bank has adopted these measures to limit the risks the property market could pose to the banking system, it believes the state has to step in to address the situation on the property market comprehensively.

With the softer rules to approve loans, Banka Slovenije also took into account some of the initiatives from banks, which were rather critical of some restrictions introduced in late 2019.

05 May 2022, 10:41 AM

STA, 5 May 2022 - The Financial Administration will disburse one-off aid today to businesses and farmers who have experienced a more than 40% increase in fuel, heating, electricity and other energy costs this year.

The payments, EUR 51.56 million in total to 5,996 beneficiaries, were made on the basis of a bill passed in February as part of an energy relief package meant to mitigate the impact of high energy prices for households and business entities, including agriculture.

The bill stipulates that legal entities or individuals with a business registered in Slovenia by 1 December 2021 whose energy costs will increase by more than 40% in 2022 compared to 2021 are eligible for government aid.

The amount of the aid was capped at 60% of the damage suffered as a consequence of rising energy prices, while restrictions were also imposed on businesses according to their turnover and energy costs as a percentage of operating expenditure.

Beneficiaries had to submit all the necessary information by 15 April. The bill provided for EUR 70 million in aid for up to 40,500 beneficiaries.

The full relief package also included a EUR 106.5 million energy voucher scheme for households. Some 710,000 beneficiaries were eligible for EUR 150 energy vouchers, including recipients of income support and welfare, large families, pensioners with under EUR 1,000 in pensions, the disabled, and some other vulnerable groups.

04 May 2022, 10:46 AM

STA, 4 May 2022 - Slovenians have so far redeemed 76% of tourist vouchers issued in 2020 and 70% of the 2021 vouchers that can be used in a variety of fields. Both types of vouchers are valid until the end of June, with EUR 86 million yet to be spent in tourist facilities and EUR 56 million in tourism, culture, and sport.

Since tourist vouchers were introduced on 19 June 2020 as a form of government aid to the tourism sector due to the pandemic, over 1.6 million beneficiaries or almost 80% have used their vouchers partly or in full by 2 May, data by the Financial Administration show.

Adults received EUR 200 and children EUR 50 to spend at tourist facilities around the country.

In total, EUR 272.64 million or 76% of the amount available has been redeemed.

The 2021 vouchers have so far been used to pay for accommodation as well as cultural and sports services by 1.5 million or 75% of beneficiaries.

Since they were introduced on 16 July 2021, 1.9 million vouchers worth EUR 130.91 million have been partially or fully cashed in.

Adults received EUR 100 and children EUR 50.

About 47% of the vouchers were used to pay for restaurant bills, 34% for tourist accommodation, 12% for cultural events, and the purchase of books and school textbooks, and 7% for sports.

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