18 Dec 2020, 04:23 AM

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This summary is provided by the STA

DeSUS leaves the coalition

LJUBLJANA - The council of the Pensioners' Party (DeSUS) voted in favour of a proposal that the party leave the coalition and backed leader Karl Erjavec as a candidate for prime minister-designate. Erjavec explained that DeSUS was exiting the coalition not because of the epidemic or work of individual ministers, but because of the policies pursued by Prime Minister Janez Janša. "We don't want an 'Orbanisation' of Slovenia." At least one of the five MPs, Robert Polnar, is expected to remain with the coalition and will be excluded from the deputy group, the decision of the other four is expected on Friday. The decision on the fate of the government ministers who are members of DeSUS is on Janša. The exit is seen as a major step towards the formation of a centre-left government, but the left parties are well short of the majority and are counting on defections from the Modern Centre Party (SMC), whose deputy group is expected to meet on Friday.

Broken Bones Gin Ljubljana Slovenia (5).jpg

Looking for a last-minute gift? Broken Bones Gin, the award-winning gin made in Ljubljana - named Best in Europe and available here

EU court rules Slovenia breached inviolability of ECB archives

LUXEMBOURG, Luxembourg - Fully upholding the European Commission's position, the European Court of Justice ruled that Slovenia breached the inviolability of ECB archives in a 2016 police search of archives at the country's central bank that was part of an investigation into the 2013 bank bailout. The court's Grand Chamber also found Slovenia in breach of the obligation of sincere cooperation with the EU. The Commission said it had taken note of the court's decision and expected Slovenia to implement it. The ECB said the ruling confirmed its initial concern that the seizure of Eurosystem documents did not respect the principle of the inviolability of the ECB's archives.

State of epidemic extended by a month, more services open

LJUBLJANA - The government formally extended the state of coronavirus epidemic by 30 days beginning on 18 December. However, more shops, including those selling technical goods, tree and plant nurseries as well as shops with goods for installation, maintenance and repair services will reopen for five days, from 19 to 23 December. Book shops, shops selling stationary and gifts, shops offering photocopying services and those with baby and children's products will only open in the four regions with a better epidemiological situation - Central Slovenia, Goriška, Obalno-Kraška and Gorenjska. In these regions museums, galleries and libraries will be allowed to open as well. Religious ceremonies may be held from Saturday.

1,642 infections recorded on Wednesday, 43 patients die

LJUBLJANA - Slovenia recorded 1,642 coronavirus infections from 6,350 tests on Wednesday. Compared with the day before, the positivity rate declined from 32% to 25.8%. 43 Covid-19 patients died, bringing the death toll to 2,233, the latest government data showed. The hospitalisation figures decreased slightly - the number of persons in hospital dropped by 22 to 1,229 and the total of those requiring intensive care by three to 208. The daily rise in new infections was down on the same day a week before for the fifth straight day.

Slovenia marks 30th anniversary of its armed forces

KOČEVSKA REKA - The 30th anniversary of the first public formation of MORiS, a special-forces unit of what was then Territorial Defence was celebrated to mark an event that is seen as the beginning of the Slovenian Armed Forces. The prime minister at the time, Lojze Peterle, said that was "the day when it started smelling of Slovenian armed forces". President Borut Pahor said the formation was important because it happened only a week before the independence referendum to let the citizens know that "we will fight and win".

Chief of general staff promoted to rank of major general

LJUBLJANA - President Borut Pahor, the supreme commander of the Slovenian Armed Forces (SAF), promoted Chief of the General Staff Robert Glavaš to the rank of major general. The promotion is according to Pahor a result of Glavaš's excellent military career and his results at all SAF levels as well as of the experiences he gained in missions abroad and in NATO structures. Glavaš thus joined another two active generals in the Slovenian army, both ex-chiefs of the general staff.

Slovenian, Kosovo FMs discuss bilateral, regional issues

LJUBLJANA - Foreign Minister Anže Logar and Kosovo Foreign Minister Meliza Haradinaj-Stublla discussed bilateral relations, highlighting economic cooperation, the situation in SE Europe and Kosovo's Euro-Atlantic prospects. Measures to contain the coronavirus pandemic were also in the focus. Logar expressed support for Kosovo's EU prospects, and called for a continued reform drive and a completion of the implementation of visa liberalisation with the EU.

Bill on National Demographic Fund passes first reading

LJUBLJANA - The National Assembly assessed that the bill on the National Demographic Fund is fit for further debate in a 48:36 vote. The discussion on Tuesday showed that while all MPs agree that a solution is needed to ensure decent pensions, the opposition does not agree that a new overarching state fund is the right solution.

Bill passed to amend criminal procedure act

LJUBLJANA - The National Assembly passed in a 43:36 vote a bill amending the criminal procedure act. Based on the freedom of information act, the changes make it possible for anyone to access prosecution or court records in criminal procedures if there are no reservations for such access. Moreover, the amendments set down that the state prosecutor is required to make a decision on whether to bring the indictment or not in 90 days at the latest.

Legislation cutting motor vehicles tax passed

LJUBLJANA - The National Assembly endorsed a reform bill on motor vehicles tax as a result of which most car and motorbike buyers will pay less tax, especially buyers of more powerful vehicles. The levy will depend on emissions. The legislation has been criticised by the Consumer Association, which said the new system would make it more difficult to entice consumers to buy more environmentally friendly cars or improve the use of public transportation.

MPs back special tax treatment of shipping companies

LJUBLJANA - The National Assembly passed changes to the tonnage tax act extending by another ten years a special regulation under which shipping companies pay an alternative form of corporate income tax. The current corporate income tax act has allowed shippers since 2007 the option of paying a lump sum relative to the net tonnage and the number of days the ship is in operation.

EUR 5.67 billion in borrowing planned for next year

LJUBLJANA - The budget financing programme for 2021, adopted by the government on Wednesday, shows that EUR 5.67 billion in borrowing is needed next year. In that case, the central government budget debt would increase to EUR 36.62 billion or around 75% of the country's gross domestic product (GDP), the Finance Ministry said.

PM says Slovenia preserved development potential during crisis

LJUBLJANA - The measures Slovenia has adopted put it in a good position to continue fighting the consequences of the epidemic and to successfully transition to the fourth industrial revolution, Prime Minister Janez Janša told the Business Summit. He said that Slovenia had secured EUR 10.5 billion in the EU's multiannual budget and rescue package, funds that provide the resources for research and development, innovation, digitalisation, education, and training for professions of the future.

Telekom secures EIB loan to expand fibre optic network

LJUBLJANA - Telekom Slovenije signed a loan agreement with the European Investment Bank (EIB) worth up to EUR 100 million for the expansion of its fibre optic network through 2023. The EIB funds will allow the company to finance the continued expansion and upgrade of its network with gigabit speeds, both in urban centres and rural areas, including so-called white spots, where there is no market interest in building networks.

DRI's management of Maribor Airport extended

LJUBLJANA - The government confirmed at its Wednesday session a report on Maribor airport and decided that the state-owned consulting and engineering company DRI would continue to temporarily manage the airport until the end of next year. This was proposed by the Infrastructure Ministry as a temporary solution until a long-term one is found.

Ljubljana airport operator hoping for revival in spring

LJUBLJANA - Although regular passenger transport at Ljubljana airport has been slashed because of the epidemiological situation, airport operator Fraport Slovenija director Zmago Skobir remains optimistic. The damage because of coronavirus has been estimated at almost EUR 17 million, however Skobir told the STA in an interview he is confident the airport will come to life again in the spring.

Pensions to go up by 2.5% next year

LJUBLJANA - Pensions will be raised by 2.5% from 1 January to be adjusted to the growth in wages and costs of living in the past year with the higher pensions to be paid out in February. This comes on top of a 2% rise this month. The decision on the regular adjustment was formally endorsed by the Pension and Disability Institute (ZPIZ) after it had already been determined in the budget documents passed by parliament in November.

Katja Šaponjić wins French Institute translation prize for comics

LJUBLJANA - The French Institute in Slovenia presented its Charles Nodier Award to Katja Šaponjić for her translations of graphic novels and comic strips from French. The award, recognising best translation of a French book into Slovenian, was first presented in 2018. This time it celebrates the year of comics. The judging panel recognised Šaponjić's entire body of work in translating comics between 2015 and 2020.

If you're learning Slovenian then you can find all our dual texts here


17 Dec 2020, 19:21 PM

STA, 17 December 2020 - The government decided on Thursday to allow some more shops, including those selling technical goods, to reopen for five days, from 19 to 23 December, after some services reopened on 15 December. What lockdown regime will apply after that is expected to be determined in the coming days, Economy Minister Zdravko Počivalšek said.

Shops selling technical goods, tree and plant nurseries as well as shops with goods for installation, maintenance and repair services will be able to open across the country. Pet care services as well as some counselling and therapeutic services will also be allowed.

Meanwhile, book shops, shops selling stationary and gifts, shops offering photocopying services and those with baby and children's products will only open in the four regions with a better epidemiological situation - Central Slovenia, Goriška, Obalno-Kraška and Gorenjska.

Real estate agents will also be able to offer their services in these regions, where clothes and footwear shops reopened on Tuesday.

Počivalšek said the government had already discussed the regime after 23 December but the final decision is to be taken in the coming days.

He said it would be largely based on epidemiological trends following the ongoing temporary easing of restrictions in the services sector.

The minister believes that despite the difficult epidemiological situation, it is vital that the economy is functioning.

Slovenia cannot afford a full lockdown during the holiday season, he told the government's afternoon Covid-19 briefing. "We are aware of its economic consequences, so this is not a measure we desire or support."

17 Dec 2020, 14:33 PM

STA, 17 December 2020 - The council of the Pensioners' Party (DeSUS) voted in favour of a proposal by the party's executive committee that DeSUS leave the current coalition and back party leader Karl Erjavec as a candidate for prime minister-designate.



The decision on the fate of the government ministers who are members of DeSUS is on Prime Minister Janez Janša, Erjavec said.

Erjavec told the press he expected that the DeSUS deputy group would follow the decision that was backed by 37 out of the 47 DeSUS members who voted today. Support for Erjavec as a candidate for prime minister-designate was expressed by 40 members.

The DeSUS president said that the vote had been attended by DeSUS deputy group head Franc Jurša and MP Jurij Lep, both of whom backed the proposal to exit the coalition headed by the Democrats (SDS) of PM Janez Janša.

He added that MP Branko Simonovič had already announced he would support and respect the decisions of the party's main bodies, and he expects the same from MP Ivan Hršak. Erjavec plans to meet the deputy group on Friday.

However, one of the five MPs, noted Erjavec critic Robert Polnar, is to be expelled from the party, in line with the proposal from the executive committee.

This is up to the local chapter where Polnar hails from (Šentjur), said Erjavec, who expects that Polnar will be expelled from DeSUS as early as on Friday or at the beginning of the next week. He would also be expelled from the DeSUS deputy group.

The government ministers who are members of DeSUS, Health Minister Tomaž Gantar and Agriculture Minister Jože Podgoršek, will not resign, it is up to the prime minister to decide when they will be dismissed.

Gantar has an important role at the moment and we do not want him to leave just like that and "leave the prime minister in uncertainty," Erjavec said.

He explained that DeSUS was exiting the coalition because of the critical situation in Slovenia, adding that the reason was not the epidemic or work of individual ministers, but the policies pursued by Janša.

"We don't have any major remarks as far as the coalition agreement is concerned, but the problem is in procedures bypassing the coalition agreement, especially when it comes to ideological topics and interference in the media."

Erjavec also mentioned the developments in the police and "huge pressure on all important social sub-systems", adding that "we don't want an 'Orbanisation' of Slovenia, and autocratic system."

As for foreign policy, DeSUS wants Slovenia to "hop back onto the Franco-German train and we want to be in the group of core EU countries." For this to happen, Slovenia needs a different government, he said.

Gantar said that the decision to leave the coalition was logical considering the developments in the political arena, adding that he would stay on as health minister until there was no other solution, as the situation healthcare was serious.

Asked to comment on Janša's statement that he should dedicate himself to preparations for Covid-19 vaccination instead of taking down the government, he said his team had invested so much effort in recent months that such statements were "out of place."

Erjavec is already in talks with the leaders of the four centre-left parties that make up the informal Constitutional Arch Coalition (KUL), which wants to unseat the government with a constructive vote of no confidence.

The vote requires the proponents to muster an absolute majority in parliament and put forward a candidate for prime minister-designate.



17 Dec 2020, 11:53 AM

STA, 17 December 2020 - The government has formally extended the epidemic by another 30 days beginning with 18 December, government Covid-19 spokesman Jelko Kacin said on Wednesday evening. Museums, libraries and galleries have been given the go-ahead to reopen in regions with the best epidemiological status.

The set of restrictions that will be put in place during the holidays has not yet been agreed on, Kacin added. The government discussed the holiday regime that will be imposed to contain the spread of coronavirus, and is expected to reach a decision in the coming days.

In four regions with the most optimal epidemiological situation, central Osrednjeslovenska, Gorenjska in the north-west, coastal Obalno-Kraška and Goriška in the west, libraries, galleries and museums are allowed to reopen starting on Saturday.

Some museums may reopen on the first day, others are likely to wait until next week, the STA learnt after speaking to several museums.

Remote schooling is to remain in place at least until 25 December. After the holidays, a possibility that classroom learning will return has been floated.

Kacin remains optimistic and would like to see students back in school as soon as possible. The government does not wish to jeopardise this possibility by an excessive easing of the restrictions, he told the STA.

Regarding the holiday regime, he said that movement between municipalities could be perhaps permitted temporarily as well get-togethers of a restricted number of persons, however the government must be careful not to aggravate the situation.

The 9pm-6am curfew might be lifted as well and fireworks banned.

Bojana Beović, the head of the government Covid-19 task group, reiterated for commercial broadcaster POP TV on Wednesday that it would be sensible to impose a lockdown between 24 December and 4 January that would be as strict as possible to prepare for the January epidemic wave.

If it transpires that there is no surge in infections after the holidays, certain activities could be reopened, she said, highlighting the importance of social bubbles during the holidays.

The government also approved yesterday a EUR 4.5 million investment in a mobile facility for the Ljubljana UKC medical centre that is meant to boost the number of Covid beds during the epidemic.

17 Dec 2020, 08:29 AM

STA, 15 December 2020 - Roma settlements in Slovenia are at a high risk of becoming coronavirus hotspots due to poor living conditions, the Črnomelj Union for Roma Community Development has warned at an online conference on Monday, noting that special attention should be devoted to the community as a vulnerable group.

"The situation is alarming since we do not have means in place in Roma settlements to prevent the further spread of the virus," said Zvonko Golobič, the organisation's head.

He pointed out that the Roma had been mostly heeding prevention measures, however, the community faced major problems during the coronavirus crisis.

Many Roma families live together in a single room and thus struggle to self-isolate when needed. Remote schooling poses another issue since children seek help with school tasks from community members and may thus spread the infection.

Numerous families do not have access to drinking water, Golobič highlighted. Add to that poor health among Roma people compared to the general population and it becomes clear that the community is at a greater risk of developing a severe form of Covid-19, he said, urging the authorities to do all they could to prevent the situation from exacerbating.

A study by the National Institute of Public Health (NIJZ) released last year shows that the average Roma dies almost 20 years earlier than a member of Slovenia's general population. Roma toddlers aged one to four are seven times more likely to die than non-Roma children of that age.

Asked whether the government had an action plan in the event of a surge in infections in Roma settlements, government Covid-19 spokesman Jelko Kacin said it did not.

"Not at the state level. This is a problem that needs to be managed at the local level," he said, adding that local epidemiologists should assess the situation and propose measures to prevent any escalations.

"One cannot perform miracles overnight," Kacin commented on living conditions in Roma settlements, adding that clean water could be provided in settlements where water access was a burning issue but that the water distribution system could not be build so quickly if it had not been built for years.

Medical director of the Novo Mesto hospital Milivoj Piletič said that it did not help the situation that Roma people often did not have their own GPs selected or participated in prevention programmes.

The vaccination rate among Roma children is low, he warned, stressing the importance of raising awareness about Covid-19 and necessary measures.

Golobič thinks such efforts are not enough though. "We will not stop the virus by only raising awareness. Something more must be done."

Bonia Miljavac, the head of the NIJZ Novo Mesto regional unit, said that measures and procedures related to Covid-19 were based on equal treatment of all Slovenian residents.

The same will apply to vaccination procedures, she said, adding that the NIJZ had published a special Covid-19 leaflet translated into various Roma dialects in cooperation with the Roma Information Centre and the Union of Roma Communities.

The Roma community is strong in the north-eastern Prekmurje region, Bela Krajina in the south, Posavje in the east and the south-eastern Dolenjska region. The Council of Europe estimates that roughly 8,500 Roma live in Slovenia, however the figure ranges from 7,000 to 12,000 according to various institutions.

All our stories on the Roma community in Slovenia

17 Dec 2020, 03:52 AM

Check the date at the top of the page, and you can find all the "morning headlines" stories here. You can also follow us on Facebook and get all the news in your feed.

This summary is provided by the STA

Slovenia's case vs Croatia over LB bank ruled inadmissible

STRASBOURG, France - The Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights ruled that it does not have jurisdiction to hear a case brought by Slovenia against Croatia over debt owed to Ljubljanska Banka (LB) by Croatian companies, because LB lacks non-governmental status. The court held that LB was not a non-governmental organisation and thus did not have standing to lodge an individual application, referring to its previous decision in a case brought individually by LB. Accordingly, the court cannot examine an inter-state application in respect of this legal entity.

Slovenia's coronavirus total case count passes 100,000

LJUBLJANA - Slovenia confirmed 2,107 coronavirus cases on Tuesday as 32% the tests came back positive, bringing the case count since the start of the pandemic to over 100,000. The death toll rose to 2,190 after another 39 patients with Covid-19 died. Hospitalisations dropped by 33 to 1,251 with ICU cases rising by seven to 211. The seven-day average of new cases as of Monday is 1,477, according to government data. The Covid-19 tracker site shows there are now 20,785 active cases.

Broken Bones Gin Ljubljana Slovenia (5).jpg

Looking for a last-minute gift? Broken Bones Gin, the award-winning gin made in Ljubljana - named Best in Europe and available here

Logar meets Dutch counterpart

THE HAGUE, Netherlands - Foreign Minister Anže Logar met his counterpart Stefan Blok as part of his working visit to the Netherlands on Tuesday to discuss cooperation, Slovenia's EU presidency, and topical issues. Logar expressed interest in strengthening economic cooperation between Slovenia and the Netherlands, especially in digitalisation and green technology. Logar also held talks at the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons and International Criminal Court in The Hague.

Pandemic, W Balkans in focus of CEDC ministerial

POSTOJNA - The experiences of individual armies in helping to fight the Covid-19 epidemic and the strengthening of cooperation with Western Balkan countries were in the focus of a two-day meeting of the Central European Defence Cooperation (CEDC). Slovenian Defence Minister Matej Tonin and his Hungarian counterpart Tibor Benko expressed support for the long-term stability of the region as they addressed the press after the meeting. Tonin said this could be achieved with membership of these countries in the EU and NATO.

EU Commission inquiring more about Slovenia's views this year, says Stančič

LJUBLJANA - The European Commission follows the developments in Slovenia and it is no secret that in the past years Brussels has addressed more requests to the country asking it to explain its standpoints, Zoran Stančič, the head of the European Commission Representation in Slovenia, told the STA as the end of his term nears. After five years of heading the EU representation office, Stančič is to take over on 1 January 2021 a post of a special digital transformation advisor at the Directorate-General for Communications Networks, Content and Technology.

Janša says Počivalšek made "superhuman efforts" to save lives

LJUBLJANA - Prime Minister Janez Janša said Economy Minister Zdravko Počivalšek had made "superhuman efforts to save the health and lives of people" as he commented on news that the Commission for the Prevention of Corruption had launched an investigation into the purchases of personal protective equipment during the first wave of the epidemic. In a Twitter post yesterday he said the media campaign against him and colleagues "is utterly unjust from a human perspective".

Railways operator signs strategic partnership with Czech holding

LJUBLJANA - Railways operator Slovenske Železnice signed a strategic logistics and cargo partnership with EP Holding. The Czech holding will become the owner of a 49% stake of Slovenske Železnice's cargo division SŽ-Tovorni Promet. The partnership is pending regulatory approval, with all suspensive conditions expected to be met by June next year. The new company is to receive a capital increase, however no figures have been released. Unofficially, it is to stand at between EUR 60 million and EUR 100 million.

Telekom Slovenije planning EUR 30.8 million in profit in 2021

LJUBLJANA - The Telekom Slovenije group plans to generate EUR 653 million in operating income and EUR 30.8 million in net earnings, the company announced on the website of the Ljubljana Stock Exchange. The telecoms incumbent would like to see EUR 210.6 million in EBITDA in 2021 and EUR 203.7 million in next year's investments. The group expects this year's results to be below expectations. In early November they estimated net sales income would be lower than projections by some 3% at EUR 609.3 million.

Four companies win FDI Awards as best foreign investors

LJUBLJANA - Atlantic Droga Kolinska, Belinka Perkemija, TKK and iSystem Labs were honoured as best foreign investors for their excellent business performance and contribution to the development of the Slovenian economy. The awards are given out annually by the SPIRIT investment promotion agency and the economy ministry. With its proactive and dynamic approach, Slovenia increased the inflow of FDI in 2019 to over EUR 16 billion, which currently represents 33% of its GDP and 65.5% of all foreign direct investments in the country, Economic Development and Technology Minister Zdravko Počivalšek stressed in his keynote during the online awards ceremony.

Chief Covid-19 adviser elected Medical Chamber head

LJUBLJANA - Bojana Beović, the infectious disease specialist who heads the group advising the government on Covid-19, was elected head of the Medical Chamber. Out of the 5,895 ballots cast by members in Tuesday's runoff, Beović won 3,154 and Tanja Petkovič, the head of the chamber's section of care home doctors, 2,706. 51% of the membership cast ballots. Beović expects that by the time she takes over from incumbent Zdenka Čebašek-Travnik her services as Covid-19 would no longer be needed.

Judge candidate Brkan confident she could win MPs, pass Committee 255 hearing

LJUBLJANA - EU law expert Maja Brkan showed confidence she can pass Committee 225's vetting to become a new Slovenian judge on the General Court of the European Union, if her candidacy is endorsed by Slovenian parliament. She believes, based on her expertise and experience, she could become one of Slovenia's two judges on this court.

Lampič, Roglič and handball team declared best in sports in 2020

LJUBLJANA - Cross-country skier Anamarija Lampič, cyclist Primož Roglič and the men's handball team are this year's crème de la crème of Slovenian sports as selected by the Association of Sports Journalists. Both the athletes and the team received the top sports awards at the 2020 Athlete of the Year ceremony.

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16 Dec 2020, 18:00 PM

STA, 16 December 2020 - Slightly less than 50% of Slovenia's residents intend to get vaccinated against Covid-19, which is a bit more than in November, the latest survey by pollster Valicon shows. Nineteen percent intend to get vaccinated for sure, up three percentage points, while 28% said they would probably get vaccinated.

As many as 57% said they would get vaccinated because it is responsible to others, with another 42% saying they would like to reduce the chance of getting infected.

Twenty-two percent have no intention whatsoever of getting vaccinated (down from 26%), with another 31% saying they would probably not get vaccinated.

Most of them cited distrust in the vaccine as the main reason, with as many as 60% saying the vaccine should be tested longer to prove safe. 43% also fear side effects.

Most of the respondents, 56%, blamed the poor epidemiological situation on people or their poor adherence to restrictive measures, and 38% on the government.

As many as 30% said all politicians should be blamed, with 22% pointing the finger at the Health Ministry's task force, which advises the government on coronavirus.

Just before the latest relaxation of measures kicked in on 15 December, the majority assessed restrictive measures were rather inappropriate.

The share rose from 29% two weeks ago to 41%, the highest so far, with only 14% saying the measures were appropriate.

The largest share so far - 57% - said the measures were too strict. 17% assessed them as adequate and over a quarter as not strict enough.

Valicon said that if the poll were carried out today, the public's response would be probably less negative as some of the measures had been additionally relaxed since the survey was carried out on 11-13 December.

The respondents were however less negative about the government's management of the epidemic's ramifications for the economy and households, although the figures are the worst so far.

The share of those who consider it inappropriate rose considerably, to 38%, while half of those polled said the approach was partly adequate and partly inadequate. 12% labelled it as very adequate.

The share of those who think the situation is worsening rose for the second consecutive time, to almost two thirds from 54% two weeks ago.

The public's trust in the government's handling of the epidemic has also dropped, to the lowest level so far, with 67% not trusting it and 27% trusting it.

The #NewNormal poll, surveying 534 respondents, measures the public's reaction to coronavirus-related measures and its perception of everyday life during the epidemic.

16 Dec 2020, 15:27 PM

STA, 16 December 2020 - Slovenia confirmed 2,107 coronavirus cases on Tuesday as nearly a third of all tests came back positive, and another 39 Covid-19 fatalities. The total number of cases since the start of the pandemic has thus passed 100,000 and the death toll has risen to 2,190.

Data released by the government show that 6,579 Sars-CoV-2 tests were performed yesterday with a positivity rate of 32%, up 4.95 percentage points compared with the day before.

Still, the number of new cases confirmed yesterday was down by 32 when compared to the figure a week ago, as the daily rise in new infections was down on the same day the week before for the fourth straight day.

The number of patients hospitalised with Covid-19 dropped by 33 to 1,251 after 128 were discharged home and 117 were newly admitted. The number of intensive care unit (ICU) cases rose by seven to 211.

The seven-day average of new cases as of Monday is 1,477, and the 14-day incidence per 100,000 residents is 1,006, government data show.

According to the tracker site, there are currently 20,785 active cases in the country, out of a total of 100,389 confirmed so far.

Addressing the daily coronavirus press briefing on Wednesday, Tatjana Lejko Zupanc, the head of the UKC Ljubljana Department of Infectious Diseases, offered a glimmer of hope.

"In recent days we have the impression the situation is calming even if just microscopically. We're not very optimistic, but there's a ray of light because we have a bed free every morning."

However, she said they were "walking the edge" and the proportion of ICU cases was increasing, while the staff was tired, on the verge of burnout, even though committed and they were looking forward to the vaccine.

She said almost half of the Covid-19 patients admitted were older than 75 and that their average age was even higher than in the first wave, at 70, compared to 65 with the average at 69. About 13% of the hospitalised Covid-patients died, which is on a par with the first wave.

Nuška Čakš Jager, deputy head of the Centre for Infectious Diseases at the National Institute of Public Health, noted that the test positivity rate had not been changing much.

Surveys conducted by epidemiologists among those infected indicate that now the primary source of infections is family or household with an increasing proportion of those who cite socialising as the source of infection.

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16 Dec 2020, 12:54 PM

STA, 15 December 2020 - The Ljubljana City Council has adopted a new strategy for the development of tourism in 2021-2027. The main goals include increasing off-peak season visits and average spending, and extending the average stay. The strategy acknowledges the post-coronavirus tourism recovery will take time.

The Slovenian capital seeks to increase the number of tourist nights by 14%, with the average spending per tourist to rise from EUR 101 to EUR 140 and average duration of stay to increase from 2.5 to 3 nights.

Two of the cornerstones of the city's tourism remain the same: meetings and short city breaks. The third pillar will be gastronomy, which the city sees as a significant development opportunity.

Overall, the success of the strategy will hinge on increasing visitor numbers between November and March.

One of the events designed to entice tourists in the off-peak season is a new Ljubljana Love Festival in February with a series of weekend events such as exhibitions, concerts and dance festivals.

November Gourmet, which would tie the city's gastronomy with local customs, music and dance, would revolve around St. Martin's Day, the traditional Slovenian celebration of must turning into wine.

The strategy was confirmed by the City Council at Monday's session.

16 Dec 2020, 12:46 PM

STA, 15 December 2020 - Some 84,700 unemployed persons were registered with Slovenia's Employment Service on average in the first eleven months of 2020, up 14.5% compared to the same period in 2019. Currently, 84,732 unemployed persons are recorded, however the figure is expected to rise to some 88,000 at the end of the year, Employment Service head Mitja Bobnar said.

During the January-November period, about 90,500 persons registered as unemployed, a 35% increase on the same period in 2019, Bobnar noted at today' briefing.

The year-on-year rise was most significant in the case of furloughed workers or people whose companies had gone bust. Among those who lost their jobs was also a larger number of persons who had seen their fixed-term contracts expire.

At the end of November, the unemployed register numbered more than 84,100, up by 16% year-on-year.

Employers registered 107,000 vacancies until the end of November, down by 27% on the first eleven months in 2019.

In the past two months, the number of vacancies dropped by some 20%, most notably in culture, recreational activities, traffic, warehouse services, retail and the hospitality sector, Bobnar said.

"Certain activities have been hiring on a significantly larger scale," he said, highlighting manufacturing, construction, transportation services and social care activities as such areas.

Compared with other European countries, Slovenia's unemployment rate is somewhere in between, he noted.

Since the start of stimulus measures, the Employment Service has received more than 160,000 applications for the furlough or short-time work schemes for over 600,000 workers. "The figure is truly high, however we manage to process the applications in 14 days on average," Bobnar said.

All furlough scheme applications stemming from the fourth and fifth stimulus packages have been processed, he said, adding that short-time work scheme applications had been processed in timely fashion.

A total of EUR 335 million was disbursed to some 36,200 service providers for 236,000 workers.

16 Dec 2020, 12:39 PM

STA, 15 December 2020 - Banka Slovenije, Slovenia's central bank, expects the economy to contract by 7.6% this year before growing at a rate of 3.1% in 2021 and 4.5% in 2022. The forecast hinges on the successful rollout of coronavirus vaccines.

The figures for this year and next mark a sharp downgrade from its forecast in June, when the central bank projected that the economy would contract by 6.5% this year and expand by 4.9% in 2021. The forecast for 2022 has, however, been upgraded by almost a full percentage point.

"According to this scenario, Slovenia would return to the pre-corona level at the end of 2022," said Arjana Brezigar Masten, the head of the central bank's analytical and research department.

Brezigar Masten said the forecast hinged on the successful rollout of coronavirus vaccines.

If the second wave of the epidemic could be contained this year, Slovenia could return to pre-corona levels in 2021. If the unfavourably epidemiological situation persists, GDP could continue declining next year and Slovenia would not reach pre-corona levels before the end of 2022.

The contraction has been substantially cushioned by economic stimulus measures. Absent these measures, the contraction would be worse by a third, she said.

Government stimulus has also kept the labour market stable, which is why the central bank expects unemployment will not be as bad as initially feared. The forecast indicates employment will decline by 1.5% this year and 0.3% next year before rising by 1.4% in 2022.

According to Brezigar Masten, survey unemployment is expected to increase next year but remain below 6%, which is "significantly less than in the previous financial crisis."

"Model estimates show that government measures, in particular subsidies for furlough and shorter work time, have so far managed to preserve roughly 16,000 jobs."

Exports are projected to contract by over 11% this year before expanding by 7.2% and 6.8% in the next two years. Imports, expected to plunge by over 13% this year, are to outpace exports in the next two years.

Consumer prices are projected to drop by 0.2% year-on-year, but once the epidemiological situation improves the central bank expects inflation to pick up, hitting 0.9% next year and 1.3% in 2022.

The latest macroeconomic forecasts are in broad convergence about the contraction of Slovenia's GDP this year, with the economy expected to shrink by about 7%. A rebound in the 3-5% range is expected in 2021.

GDP growth/time of projection 2020 2021 2022

Banka Slovenije/December           -7.6%      3.1%      4.5%
OECD/December                      -7.5%      3.4%      3.5%
European Commission/November       -7.1%      5.1%      3.8%
IMF/October                        -6.7%      5.2%
EBRD/October                       -7.5%      3.5%
IMAD/September                     -6.7%      5.1%      3.7%

Source: Individual forecasts


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