Flattening of curve urged as Slovenia turning Covid-19 yellow
LJUBLJANA - Officials announced ramped up inspections and testing and the possibility that gatherings could be limited to 10 people as the country recorded 23 new cases out of 1,325 tests conducted on Monday. Urging adherence to existing measures to flatten the curve, Mario Fafangel, the chief epidemiologist at the National Institute of Public Health, said the cumulative average infection rate per 100,000 inhabitants in the past two-weeks was 9.85, meaning at the 10 threshold "we've been using for other countries when designating them no longer safe" and coding them yellow. While the number of infections at the Vipava care home rose by one to 11 residents and seven staff, Fafangel revealed that another resident tested positive at a small care home in Kras. Cerknica, south of Ljubljana, is another hotspot after five residents tested positive Monday, having attended a private party of 30-40 people. Local authorities thus fear more infections.
Von der Leyen ready for dialogue with Slovenia on ECB archives
BRUSSELS, Belgium - The European Commission would like to keep the dialogue with Slovenia on ECB archives, Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said in her response to a recent letter PM Janez Janša addressed to her over the suit the Commission has brought against Slovenia because of a 2016 seizure of ECB documents. Janša had inquired whether there was any chance the Commission withdraw the lawsuit, arguing it brought the investigation of alleged wrongdoing in the 2013 bank bailout in Slovenia to a standstill. Janša is scheduled to meet von der Leyen in Brussels on Thursday, so the issue could come up at the meeting.
Contact tracing app step closer to being adopted
LJUBLJANA - The parliamentary Labour Committee endorsed late on Monday a legislative package in preparation for the second wave of Covid-19 which seeks to save jobs and create a legal basis for a contact tracing app. Since they have failed to get the latter removed from the bill, the opposition announced they would challenge the app at the Constitutional Court. The government wants to make the use of the app mandatory for persons who test positive for the novel coronavirus and those ordered to quarantine. The package, to be debated by the plenary later this week, also extends the furlough scheme and expands where residents can redeem government holiday vouchers, among other things. Today, the Ljubljana Law Faculty's Institute for Criminology joined calls against the mandatory introduction of the app, saying the solution was not transparent, and interfered with legally protected human rights.
Planet TV sold to Hungarian media company for EUR 5m
LJUBLJANA - National telco Telekom Slovenije signed a contract with Hungarian media company TV2 Media selling Planet TV, its subsidiary which produces the eponymous TV channel. TV2 will pay EUR 5 million for the 100% share. The deal is expected to be finalised by the end of September after its gets all clearances, Telekom said in a release. TV2 is owned by Jozsef Vida, whom media associate with the business network of Hungary's ruling party Fidesz. Media reports suggest Planet TV could merge with Nova24TV, the TV associated with the ruling Slovenian Democrats (SDS) and also owned by Hungarian individuals reportedly close to Hungarian PM Victor Orban. Planet TV was launched in 2012 under the then SDS-led Janez Janša government.
Pahor meeting Austrian, Croatian counterparts in Vienna
VIENNA, Austria - President Borut Pahor arrived in Vienna tonight for what is the 7th trilateral meeting with his Austrian and Croatian counterparts, Alexander Van der Bellen and Zoran Milanović. The main topic of the talks, which will be held tomorrow, will be Europe during the Covid-19 pandemic and after it. They will talk about their countries' experience in facing the pandemic, measures to mitigate its impact and relaxing restrictions, as well as the EU's action to tackle the fallout from the pandemic.
Brussels keeps Slovenia forecast for 2020 at -7%
BRUSSELS, Belgium - In its summer forecast, the European Commission kept its projection for Slovenia's economy to shrink by 7% this year, while downgrading its outlook for the country for 2021 by 0.6 of a percentage point compared to the May forecast to 6.1% growth. The economic outlook for Slovenia for this year is better than for the eurozone as a whole, which is projected to see a 8.7% drop in GDP, which is a full percentage point more than the contraction projected in the spring.
DeSUS Ljubljana loses confidence in party leader Pivec
LJUBLJANA - The Ljubljana members of the junior coalition Pensioners' Party (DeSUS) passed on Monday a motion of no-confidence in DeSUS leader Aleksandra Pivec, accusing her of failure to react to contentious government actions, acting contrary to the party's platform and engaging in opaque staffing. It wants the matter to be discussed by the DeSUS council, which has the power to discuss support for the president. In a brief written statement for public broadcaster TV Slovenija, Pivec said this was a carefully orchestrated affair. TV Slovenija added the no-confidence motion reflected the opinion of a minority of DeSUS members and had practically no chance of success. Pivec has led DeSUS since defeating long-serving leader Karl Erjavec at a party congress in January.
Profit for banks halved in first five months of year
LJUBLJANA - Banks in Slovenia generated EUR 152 million in pre-tax profit in the first five months of the year, a 50% drop year-on-year. Growth in loans to households was halved and loans to companies are gradually declining too. Exposure to non-performing loans due to anti-coronavirus crisis measures is not increasing yet, Banka Slovenije said in its latest report. The total assets of the banking system rose to EUR 42.9 billion in May, which is 7.2% more than in May 2019.
Insurance sector well capitalised after a successful year
LJUBLJANA - The Slovenian insurance sector performed successfully last year, while it is facing a demanding year in 2020, primarily due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Insurance Supervision Agency's report for 2019 shows. The sector's capital adequacy nevertheless remains high, standing at 2.17 for insurers, and 2.82 for reinsurance companies. "The insurance sector is solid and is well capitalised," the agency's director Gorazd Čibej told the press, so it was well prepared for future challenges.
Police discover EUR 38m worth of tax evasion in two investigations
LJUBLJANA - Ljubljana criminal police presented the successful completion of two lengthy investigations which discovered a total of EUR 38 million in evaded taxes. One involved trade in electronic equipment among companies from several European countries and one discovered massive tax evasion in trade with scrap metal. Martin Rupnik, the head of the Ljubljana Police Department's sector for corporate crime, told the press the separate investigations into crimes that carry prison sentences of one to eight years, lasted several years, having had an international dimension. Criminal complaints were filed against three Slovenian companies and 28 individuals, of whom six British and three Italian citizens.
HIT records 50% drop in visits as casinos reopen
NOVA GORICA - Slovenia's largest gaming company HIT, which reopened its facilities on 13 June, is recording half the visitors seen in the Nova Gorica area (W) the same period last year, while turnover in its establishments in Kranjska Gora and Šentilj is somewhat better. The Nova Gorica-based company told the STA, following the reopening after the anti-coronavirus measures had been lifted, visits to HIT casinos were in line with the expectations. Out of 1,660 employees, some 100 remain on furlough.
Slovenians acquire most properties in Croatia since it joined EU
ZAGREB, Croatia - Since Croatia entered the EU in 2013, Slovenian citizens purchased a total of 9,439 properties in the country, which makes them the most numerous foreign owners of real estate in Croatia in that period. Unofficial estimates meanwhile put the total number at 110,000, mostly houses or apartments on the coast, as the bulk of them had been bought during the time of the former Yugoslavia, writes the Croatian newspaper Večernji List, citing data from the Croatian Tax Administration.
Charter flights with Greece set up again
BRNIK - A consortium of travel agencies has relaunched charter flights connecting Slovenia to Croatia's Dubrovnik and ten Greek islands. The first passengers flew to Greece from Brnik airport last Friday, so now more than 1,000 people are already holidaying there. The charter flights by air carrier Trade Air are being organised by travel agencies Palma, Kompas and Relax. According to Palma CEO Matej Knaus, the demand for package holidays in Greece is in line with expectations, at some 30-40% of last year's bookings. Some 200 flights are planned in the second half of the year. The consortium plans to maintain Slovenia's connectivity the whole year around to replace the charter flights that were in the past in the domain of the bankrupt Adria Airways.
Newspaper publishers investigated over ownership of dealer
LJUBLJANA - Radio Slovenija reported the Competition Protection Agency (AVK) had investigated the newspaper publishing companies Delo, Dnevnik and Večer over their failure to notify their ownership of Izberi, a leading national distributor of print and packages. The investigation is based on a 2019 report in which the three newspaper publishers are suspected of having taken over Izberi without notification of concentration. Delo reportedly holds a 52% stake, while Dnevnik and Večer, which are in the process of merging, hold 24% each. Izberi supplies over 2,450 outlets with daily newspapers and magazines issued by Slovenian publishers, and distributes print to more than 100,000 households.
Slovenia's guest of honour appearance in Frankfurt and Bologna postponed
LJUBLJANA - The Slovenian Book Agency announced that Slovenia's stint as the guest of honour country at the Frankfurt Book Fair was postponed for a year to 2023 due to coronavirus ramifications. So was the country's planned guest of honour appearance at the Bologna Children's Book Fair moved forward to 2022. The move comes after Canada, the country that was expected to be in the spotlight at this year's Frankfurt Fair, requested to postpone its status due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Writer Boris Pahor to be conferred state orders as part of Trieste ceremony
LJUBLJANA - The 13 July commemoration marking 100 years since the burning down of the Slovenian National Hall in Trieste by Fascists will also see President Borut Pahor and his Italian counterpart Sergio Mattarella confer the highest state orders on Trieste-born Slovenian author Boris Pahor, who witnessed the arson as a child. President Pahor is to confer on the 106-year-old concentration camp survivor the Order of Exceptional Merits for his life-long contribution to the understanding and connecting of European nations and for relentless efforts for Slovenianhood and democracy. Despite some initial reservations, the writer will accept the honours and dedicate them to everybody who died in concentration camps.
Survey finds distance learning more challenging for pupils and teachers
LJUBLJANA - Half of the Slovenian pupils think that remote learning poses more challenges than in-classroom learning, shows a survey presented by the National Education Institute. Teachers concur with that, highlighting that most targets have been achieved despite taxing circumstances. The study on the functioning of the educational system during the coronavirus epidemic involved some 10% of all primary and secondary school children, a third of Slovenian teachers and two thirds of head teachers. As many as 70% of teachers believe that remote work produced worse results than in-classroom teaching.