04 May 2022, 10:44 AM

STA, 3 May 2022 - Robert Golob, the presumptive prime minister-designate, has criticised the outgoing government's decision not to extend fuel price administration. Golob, who feels smart regulation would be in order in what he feels is presently a malfunctioning market, suspects a cartel agreement might be behind the very similar price increases in Slovenia.

The leader of the Freedom Movement told the press after coalition talks on Tuesday that by no longer capping the fuels prices, the government was in a way taking revenge for not being given another term by the voters. "This comes to show that all the pre-election carrots had strings attached to them."

While finding that smart regulation would now be the right decision to take, he pointed to the incredibly similar price increases among fuel retailers as price administration was lifted on 1 May.

He said his party's lawyers were taking a closer look at what he suspects could have been price fixing. "If this continues, the Freedom Movement will call on the competition watchdog to take action."

Responding to Golob's statements, Slovenia's largest fuel retailer Petrol said that it independently determined its pricing policy and was not coordinating it with other providers.

In the response for the STA, Petrol pointed to the findings of the Competition Protection Agency in its December report on a survey of the retail fuel market.

"It has established that the purchase price has the greatest impact on the retail price ... that prices after deregulation were not the same in all providers," the company said.

Petrol added that the regulator had also found that the system for announcing and changing prices in Slovenia through the app enables providers to quickly adjust their prices.

Fuel prices in Slovenia surged on Sunday, with regular petrol going up by about 8% and diesel by more than 20%.

Data reported by petrol stations showed regular petrol cost between EUR 1,617 and EUR 1,619 per litre depending on provider, up to EUR 1,628 along motorways. Until Saturday, it was capped at EUR 1,503.

Diesel is priced at between EUR 1,817 and EUR 1,824 at major providers Petrol and OMV, and even higher at some smaller petrol stations, EUR 1,876, while it cost EUR 1,514 on Saturday.

Prices were capped in mid-March in a bid to mitigate the surging prices of energy on global markets. Last Friday, the government said the measure would not be extended since the markets had stabilised.

The reduced excise duties, which are part of measures to mitigate the impact of the energy price hike on the population and businesses, meanwhile remain in place until 31 July.

01 May 2022, 14:35 PM

STA, 1 May 2022 - Fuel prices in Slovenia surged on Sunday after the government decided to end price administration. Regular petrol is about 8% more expensive than yesterday, with diesel up by more than 20%.

Data reported by petrol stations show regular petrol costs between EUR 1,617 and EUR 1,619 per litre depending on provider, up to EUR 1,628 along motorways. Until yesterday it was capped at EUR 1,503.

Diesel is priced at between EUR 1,817 and EUR 1,824 at major providers Petrol and OMV, and even higher at some smaller petrol stations, EUR 1,876. Yesterday it cost 1,514.

Prices were capped in mid-March in a bid to mitigate the surging prices of energy on global markets. On Friday, the government said the measure would not be extended since the markets had stabilised.

The announcement late on Friday that price administration will not be extended resulted in long queues at petrol stations around the country yesterday as people rushed to fill up, many showing up with additional canisters to stock up.

Many service stations ran out of diesel during the day.

30 Apr 2022, 08:39 AM

30 April Last Day of Cap on Petrol, Diesel Prices

STA, 29 April 2022 - The government has decided not the extend the cap on the price of regular petrol and diesel introduced in March, saying on Friday that the petroleum products market had stabilised. This means the price, both retail and wholesale, will be freely formed on the market again as of 1 May.

The government responded on 14 March to the rising prices of petroleum products by setting maximum retail prices at service stations at EUR 1.503 for a litre of regular petrol and at 1.541 for diesel.

On 31 March, it also capped the wholesale price. Wholesalers have been allowed to charge EUR 1.483 per litre of petrol and EUR 1.521 per litre of diesel, a price the government said provided a margin that would make it possible for small retailers to secure fuel supplies.

The Economy Ministry said today that the goal of protecting consumers had been achieved and that the market had stabilised in the meantime, with Slovenia currently experiencing no disruptions or instability in the supply of motor fuels.

Although the market will be determining the prices again, the ministry expects prices to remain within the EU and eurozone average.

On the other hand, the government did extend by three months on Thursday reduced excise duties on energy products, including electricity, heating oil and natural gas, in addition to motor fuels.

The reduced excise duties, which are part of measures to mitigate the impact of the energy price hike on the population and businesses, will thus remain in force until 31 July.

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.

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