STA, 1 December 2020 - The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has slightly upgraded its forecast for Slovenia's GDP in 2020, projecting that it will fall by 7.5% this year, while also downgrading the expected rebound in 2020, to 3.4%.
In the first half of June, the OECD said that Slovenia's economy was expected to shrink by 7.8% this year, and then grow by 4.5% in 2021.
In the latest report, issued on Tuesday, it says that the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic would continue to disturb economic activity until at least mid-2021.
"From then until the end of the projection horizon in 2022, investment and exports will be the main engines of growth thanks to higher demand in trading partner countries, improvements in the epidemiological situation," the report adds.
The OECD notes that economic activity in Slovenia picked up in the third quarter of 2020, after the end of the lockdown in mid-May. However, the new restrictions introduced in the autumn are affecting economic activity, in particular in services sectors.
"Activity is likely to slow again as the virus spreads. Demand is projected to bounce back in 2021 before receding to a more stable path," the report says, adding that government spending and household consumption would maintain the recovery until the end of 2021.
The export-oriented sectors are expected to benefit from stronger EU demand from 2021, but the outlook is highly uncertain, as a further significant deterioration of the health situation could lead to prolonged restrictions that would stall the economic recovery.
The OECD also notes that unemployment is increasing, calling for reinforced active labour market policies targeted on specific groups, such as long-term and older unemployed persons.
"Government support to households and businesses most affected by the crisis, in particular in the tourism and entertainment sectors, should continue."
The Paris-based organisation also issued a 2022 forecast for the first time, saying it expected a 3.5% improvement compared to 2021.
Overview of latest GDP forecasts for Slovenia
STA, 1 December - 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 ---------------------------------------------------------------- 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% Banka Slovenije/June -6.5% 4.9% 3.6% ---------------------------------------------------------------- Source: Individual forecasts
STA, 30 November 2020 - Slovenia's gross domestic product (GDP) was down 2.6% year-on-year in real terms in the third quarter, the Statistics Office reported on Monday. In seasonally-adjusted terms, GDP was up 12.4% compared to the quarter before while dropping 2.9% year-on-year.
In the first nine months of the year, Slovenia's economy shrunk by 6% compared to the same period in 2019.
Domestic consumption in the third quarter of 2020 was down by 5% year-on-year, with final consumption dropping by 0.3%, and gross investments by almost a fifth (-19.6%).
The main reason for the significant drop in gross investments was the reduction of inventories, the Statistics Office said.
Exports in the third quarter decreased by 9.5% compared to the same period in 2019, with exports of goods dropping by 4.6% and exports of services by 25.8%.
Imports on the other hand were down by 13.1%, as imports of goods decreased by 11.2% and imports of services by 22.4%.
The decreased volume of travel contributed the most both to the contraction of exports and imports.
The Statistics Office noted that within final consumption in the third quarter, a drop was recorded only in final consumption by households (-0.9%).
"This reduction was less pronounced than in the first two quarters of the year," it said, adding that in the first it was 6.3% and in the second it was 17.4%.
Final consumption by households on the domestic market was down by 6% year-on-year, with a reduction in expenditure for services and fuel contributing the most. Expenditure for durable goods was meanwhile up by 4.3%.
Final consumption by the state was up by 1.4% in the third quarter year-on-year, while gross investments in fixed assets were down by 1.8%.
Investments in machinery and equipment was down, while investments in buildings and civil engineering structures was up by 2.7%.
The number of persons in employment was down by 1.8% or 19,237 year-on-year to 1,034,564.
Year-on-year, Slovenia's GDP in the first quarter of 2020 was down by 2.4%, and in the second quarter it was down by 13%. In seasonally-adjusted terms, it was down by 3.5% and 12.9%, respectively.
In seasonally-adjusted terms at the quarterly level, it was down by 4.7% in the first quarter, and by 9.8% in the second quarter.
Statistics Office analysts expect that at the end of the year, GDP drop will not be as pronounced as in the second quarter. First assessments for the whole year are expected to be published at the end of February.
STA, 27 November 2020 - The unemployment rate in Slovenia in the third quarter stood at 5.1%, which is on par with the second quarter and 0.4 percentage points more than in the same period last year. The employment rate was 54.9%, a 0.5 percentage points increase on the second quarter and 0.4 percentage points down year-on-year, the Statistics Office said on Friday.
The number of unemployed persons, 53,000, in the third quarter was about the same as in the previous quarter, while compared to the previous year it was higher by 7.7%. The unemployment rate was 4.4% among men and 5.9% among women.
Among the 53,000 unemployed persons, 56% had also been unemployed in the second quarter of 2020, 20% were employed and 24% were inactive.
The number of persons in employment, 979,000, in the third quarter increased by 1% compared to the previous quarter. Among employed persons, the number of student workers increased the most, by 107% (or 13,000 more compared to the previous quarter), followed by the number of employees with employment contracts, by 1% (or 9,000 more).
On the other hand, the number of self-employed persons decreased by more than 8% or by roughly 10,000. Compared to the same period of 2019, the number of self-employed persons decreased by 12%.
Slightly under 20% of what were a total of 859,000 employed persons were absent from work in the third quarter of 2020. 70% were on annual leave, 14% were on sick leave and only 4% were furloughed. In the second quarter, 47% of absent workers, 80,000 in total, were furloughed, while 10% were not working due to paid annual leave.
STA, 25 November 2020 - Parliament adopted in a 51:11 vote on Wednesday the sixth stimulus package designed to mitigate the impact of the coronavirus on the economy. The legislation extends several existing measures, while a major novelty is help with fixed expenses. The opposition was mainly critical of what it sees as "cuckoos" inserted in the package.
The latest package, valued at around EUR 1 billion, extends once again the furlough scheme, measures to improve liquidity and introduces help with fixed expenses among other things.
Prime Minister Janez Janša and Finance Minister Andrej Šircelj hailed the measures as helping preserve society, the state and the economy in good shape also for the period after the epidemic.
In what is a key novelty that will apply for the last three months of 2020 for the time being, companies with a revenue decline of over 70% will be eligible for compensation equalling 1.2% of their annual income per month; those whose revenue declined by between 30% and 70% will get 0.6% per month.
Šircelj said the criteria were set down in a manner that will allow the reimbursement of fixed expenses in the majority of sectors, while Janša highlighted the increase of the 80% state subsidy for furloughed workers to 100% for smaller companies.
Beyond the immediate aid to businesses, which also includes the extension of the possibility to defer the payment of taxes and loans, the new package brings a waiver of VAT on personal protective and medical equipment, simplified registration of remote work, and bonuses for staff working with Covid-19 patients.
Coalition MP also highlighted other measures, with Suzana Lep Šimenko of the Democrats (SDS) for instance listing the waving of rents for state-owned premises, a warm meal for underprivileged school children, and simplified application for welfare transfers.
Janja Sluga of the Modern Centre Party (SMC) also feels the new package is a fast response to the problems arising in the second wave of the epidemic. "The measures are good, our citizens need them and expect them."
The package was also backed by the opposition National Party (SNS), while the remaining opposition parties reiterated their criticism of legislative changes in the package they feel to be out of place.
"The government has once more drawn up a corona crisis package with cuckoos, which are exclusively about the pursuit of the interests of the largest coalition party," Marko Bandelli of the Alenka Pratušek Party (SAB) said.
While some provisions have been removed from the package - for instance basic income for religious workers and a provision that would have equalised the value of the vocational secondary school-leaving exam with the general secondary-school leaving exam - the opposition highlighted some that is still finds unacceptable.
One of them extends licences for subsidies for private universities even if they do not meet conditions for this at the moment, which the opposition says is geared towards helping one specific university, which is owned by a person with close ties to the SDS.
Another one scraps a three-month transitional period during which a person newly registered as unemployed is not yet obliged to accept a job deemed as appropriate for them by the Employment Service.
Also criticised strongly was the raising of the fine for those violating restrictions to public gatherings. The current fines, which range between 400 and 4,000 euros now, have been raised to EUR 1,200-12,000. The government initially wanted to penalise those inciting to such protest, but the provision was crossed out at committee.
"This is intimidation, terror and presages the end of democracy," Left MP Nataša Sukič said. SD deputy Dejan Židan added that the measure "will not help the epidemic, it will only make people angrier".
Some opposition MPs were also critical of the economic measures, with Brane Golubović of the Marjan Šarec List (LMŠ) saying effective answers have not been found for everybody affected by the crisis. Jani Prednik of the SocDems said the package lacked speed and simplicity and that the partial covering of fixed expanses would not suffice.
STA, 30 September 2020 - The government gave its final nod late on Tuesday to the fifth stimulus package designed to help alleviate the consequences of the coronavirus crisis. The government already endorsed the package last week, albeit the bill had not yet been finalised.
The press release issued by the government after a correspondence session late last night indicated no major changes to the previous version of the bill.
This comes a week after trade unions protested that the bill had not been coordinated with them. Meanwhile, employers expressed satisfaction with the measures planned.
Filed into procedure by the Ministry of Labour, the Family, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities, the bill entails measures for healthcare, labour, social security, economy, education, justice, criminal sanctions, agriculture and infrastructure.
Above all, the bill is to extend the crisis measures for businesses, such as furlough funding and 100% pay compensation for those ordered to quarantine after being exposed to coronavirus positive person at their workplace.
The furlough funding has been extended until the end of the year but is now tied to more restrictions.
Meanwhile, sole proprietors and micro companies will once again be eligible to monthly income compensation, the press release said.
The bill will also allow temporary staff reshuffles at elderly nursing homes to help the homes cope in case of outbreaks, and introduce an additional bonus for staff, among other things.
To lessen the workload of GPs, the bill introduces the option of sick leave of up to three days without a visit to the doctor.
Moreover, the bill also ensures funding for personal protective equipment and sanitation in schools and preschools, while parents of children in quarantine will receive a lower preschool bill.
STA, 24 September 2020 - The government has endorsed the fifth stimulus package. Chief among the measures is an extension of the furlough scheme until year's end for all industries, albeit with stricter eligibility criteria, Labour Minister Janez Cigler Kralj announced on Thursday.
The latest stimulus package extends some measures and introduces new ones based on the needs expressed in talks with social partners, the minister said. The main goals are to preserve jobs and protect the most vulnerable groups, especially the elderly, and prevent the further spread of infections.
The key measures are the extension of the furlough scheme, an introduction of a universal basic income for the self-employed, and measures to cut waiting times in health.
The minister stressed the package had been drawn up in dialogue with social partners. About four-fifths of the measures have been coordinated with social partners, which he said was a good basis for the passage of the bill.
To help the labour market, the government decided to extend the furlough scheme until the end of the year for all industries, but introduce a slightly stricter eligibility criteria, which is an at least 30% drop in turnover compared to last year. So far, a 10% drop was required for eligibility.
The use of the measure has been dropping and the idea is to have employers cut working hours instead, but some companies still need the scheme so it has been decided to extend it, Cigler Kralj said.
The fifth package also extends until the end of the year the quarantine provisions for employees. It introduces a compensation equalling 80% of pay for parents of children up to grade 5 who are ordered to quarantine.
When a self-employed person would be ordered to quarantine for 10 days, they would receive an income support of EUR 250.
The latest proposal also reintroduced a universal basic income for the self-employed who cannot perform their activities or whose business has declined by over 30% on last year. The measure was in force during the epidemic.
From October through December they would be eligible for a EUR 700 universal basic income plus a waiver of social security contributions in the amount of EUR 400.
Another key measure is to help cut waiting times in healthcare, most notably by securing additional funding for specific health services where waiting times are currently the longest, including for private providers.
This was one of the things that upset trade unions so much that they walked out of last night's session of the Economic and Social Council.
But the government did scrap its original proposal of bonuses for specific groups of employees in health outside the public sector pay system, which the unions also strongly opposed.
Notably, the package also includes the extension of the power to issue fines for violations of protective measures from the Health Inspectorate to the police as well as to municipal wardens.
The proposal was met with nods from employers, with the Chamber of Small Business (OZS) pointing out that the government had heeded its warnings and incorporated most of its proposals in the package.
The OZS stressed that support for the self-employed had also come upon its initiative. It would however like to see the government go even further and also secure allowances for self-employed workers who remain without income because their children are quarantined.
The head of ZSSS trade union confederation Lidija Jerkič on the other pointed out for the STA that the unions had not received a final version of the proposal.
The fact that the package was not finalised yet even though it was reportedly adopted by the government was also highlighted by Matej T. Vatovec, an MP for the opposition Left.
He stressed it remains to be agreed with social partners, while he took issue with what he said was obviously an effort to continue with the privatisation of healthcare and interfere in the public sector salary system.
STA, 24 September 2020 - IMAD, the government's macroeconomic forecaster, has upgraded its GDP projections for this year. Instead of a 7.6% contraction at the annual level predicted in the summer, it now expects the economy to shrink by 6.7%. However, it warns that uncertainty remains high.
Economic activity is expected to reach pre-pandemic levels by 2022, but only assuming that there is not a new lockdown affecting certain activities, IMAD said in its autumn forecast, released yesterday.
"Were that to happen this year, the contraction would accelerate by two percentage points, while bankruptcies and higher unemployment would slow down the recovery in the coming years," IMAD director Maja Bednaš wrote.
The upgrade is underpinned by more favourable forecasts in Slovenia's main trading partners, the adoption of the EU recovery deal, and an improvement of confidence indicators from May to July.
Economic activity has already picked up, but IMAD warns it will be uneven across industries.
Exports and imports are expected to contract at double-digit rates this year before recovering at a rate just below 10% in 2021 and slightly under 7% in 2022.
Private spending is expected to contract by 6.6% this year and grow by 4.7% in 2021 and 3% in 2022.
The unemployment rate, projected to hit 9.1% this year, is expected to increase slightly in 2021 before declining to 8.5% in 2022.
Gross wages are projected to grow across the entire three-year period.
And while emphasising that the uncertainty remains high, IMAD said that the recovery could accelerate beyond current predictions in the event a vaccine is put to broad use or the novel coronavirus is sustainably contained in another way.
IMAD assumes that stimulus measures in Slovenia "significantly cushioned" the consequences of the pandemic. Without them, the contraction would have been three percentage points deeper.
The Slovenian economy is forecast to grow by 5.1% next year and by 3.7% in 2022, as all components of GDP are expected to recover, while government spending eases.
Investments, exports, imports and private consumption are projected to return to pre-crisis levels in 2022.
The government was informed about the forecast at Wednesday's session and will include the projections in its budget plans for the next two years.
STA, 21 September 2020 - The Economic Development and Technology Ministry presented on Monday a draft of industrial strategy for 2021-2030, which looks to create the conditions for restructuring Slovenia's industrial sector into an industry of knowledge and innovativeness for new and better jobs.
Presenting the document at a conference in Brdo pri Kranju, State Secretary Simon Zajc said that it featured well thought-through and effective measures which would provide the industry with additional development momentum.
The basic purpose is to set up guidelines for industrial development, which would serve as basis for support measures, he said, adding that one of the key tasks should be connecting value chains, companies of various sizes and knowledge institutions with other stakeholders.
The government wants to create conditions for a knowledge- and innovativeness-based industry to secure new and better jobs. "We want to realise the vision of Slovenia's industrial development as green, creative and smart."
Danes na Brdo pri Kranju poteka Konferenca Prihodnost industrije in internacionalizacije, ki združuje 3. Nacionalno...Posted by Ministrstvo za gospodarski razvoj in tehnologijo on Monday, 21 September 2020
The principal indicator of the Slovenian industrial strategy is labour productivity, which the ministry wants to reach EUR 66,000 in added value per employee by 2030. The intermediate goal for 2025 has been set at EUR 60,000.
What is key for green development is resource productivity, with the goal being to create as much added value as possible with the expenditure of raw materials and other resources, the document says.
The innovation indicator is key when it comes to creative development, and the Digital Economy and Society Index (DESI), which measures progress of EU member states in digital competitiveness, is the main indicator for smart development.
From the aspect of green development, transition to circular economy, decarbonisation of the energy-intensive industry, sustainable mobility and industry based on wood and other natural materials are of key importance.
As for creative development, the strategy wants to create a favourable environment for innovation, including support for nanotechnology innovation.
In smart development, Zajc pointed to digitalisation and support for the entire cycle of research and development, saying that particular attention would be paid to internationalisation.
The strategy will be in public consultation until 16 October.
STA, 31 August 2020 - Slovenia's economy has been hammered hard by the coronavirus pandemic and the ensuing lockdown with fresh data from the Statistics Office showing the country's output contracted by 13% in real terms in the second quarter compared with the same quarter a year ago. The second straight quarter of negative growth puts Slovenia in a technical recession.
Seasonally adjusted GDP decreased by 9.6% compared with the first quarter, and by 12.9% year-on-year. This means that the country's economy shrunk at an annual rate of 7.9% in the first half of the year.
Revised data from the Statistics Office show the seasonally-adjusted annual rate of decline in the first quarter, at the end of which Slovenia declared the epidemic and put public life on hold, was 3.7%, which compares to an earlier estimate of 3.4%.
The year-on-year contraction posted by Slovenia in the second quarter is somewhat lesser than the average for the eurozone and the EU running at -15.0% and -14.1%, respectively.
Fresh statistics show the country's shutdown imposed in mid-March had the biggest impact on domestic consumption, which slumped by 12% due to a 11.8% drop in final consumption expenditure and a 12.8% fall in gross capital formation.
Household final consumption expenditure slumped by 16.6%, of which 21.2% on the domestic market, with the highest decrease seen in consumption of fuels and services.
Gross fixed capital formation declined by 16.7% as construction investment decreased by 14.1% and investment in machinery and equipment slumped by 26.2%.
Due to a slump in external demand, exports fell by 24.5% compared with the second quarter of 2019; exports of goods decreased by 21.9% and exports of services fell by 35%.
Imports declined by 25%. Like in the case of exports, the slump in services was mainly observed in the travel industry.
The value added also declined, in particular in the hospitality sector, but the biggest negative impact was from manufacturing, said Romana Korenič from the Statistics Office.
Employment also fell in the second quarter, with the total of those in employment falling by 2% year-on-year to 1,023,200. Hit hardest were administrative and support services, manufacturing, and accommodation and food service activities.
On the upside, the situation started to improve in swathes of the economy the third quarter of the year, judging by macroeconomic data and survey among businesses and consumers.
Considering forecasts by domestic and international institutions, Slovenia's economy is not expected to contract by more than 8% this year, provided there are no new major shocks.
Signs of improvement were also noted by the Slovenian central bank in its response to the contraction in the output in the second quarter, which it said had been expectedly strong.
It said available data such as electricity consumption, tax revenue, the purchasing managers' index or business confidence suggest a considerable economic recovery in the summer.
As the coronavirus crisis set in, the central bank forecast a contraction of between 6% and 16% for the year depending on which of the three scenarios it had proposed would unfold.
"The current situation in the economy indicates the fall in the economic growth this year will be closer to the less adverse scenario, that is in accordance with our central forecast (of -6.5%)," said Banka Slovenije.
However, the central bank also noted that the situation is uncertain and that the recovery will largely depend on the development of the coronavirus pandemic and on how countries respond to a potential major outbreak.
"Due to the uncertainty, companies will keep postponing investment and households will remain cautiously frugal," a release from Banka Slovenije reads.
Similarly, IMAD, the government macroeconomic think-tank whose forecasts serve as a basis for state budgeting, said the contraction was within its expectations, with an improvement expected in the third quarter.
Noting that business sentiment and consumer confidence have been picking up since May, IMAD said they were still below the levels seen prior to the global coronavirus outbreak.
"In the third quarter we can expect a quarterly improvement or a lesser year-on-year decline in economic activity. With the presence of the virus and a new increase in infections in recent weeks, the situation remains uncertain, thus further fluctuation in economic activity is expected," commented IMAD director Maja Bednaš.
STA, 13 August 2020 - Foreign direct investment in Slovenia increased by EUR 552 million in the first half of 2020, a significantly slower rate of increase than in the same period last year, when inbound investment rose by almost EUR 639 million. In the 12 months until the end of June, FDI was up EUR 725.7 million.
According to data released by Banka Slovenije on Thursday, EUR 370.7 million of the increase in the first half of 2020 was accounted for by reinvested profit, EUR 116.7 million by an increase in debt instruments and EUR 64.5 million by equity.
Domestic direct investment abroad meanwhile rose by EUR 222.7 million in the first six months, after it was up EUR 67.4 million in the same period last year. The net decrease in direct investment in the first six months was thus EUR 329.2 million.
Gross foreign debt stood at EUR 48.1 billion in June, a EUR 4.4 billion increase on a year ago. Debt increased the most for the state, by EUR 3.7 billion, and the central bank, by EUR 1.3 billion, while other sectors reduced debt by EUR 0.9 billion.
Net foreign debt amounted to EUR 300 million, a EUR 2.3 billion decrease, the state being the only net debtor in June with a debt of EUR 19.1 billion.
The current account surplus stood at EUR 1.4 billion in the first six months, down EUR 106 million on the same period last year.
The surplus in the trade of goods increased by EUR 236 million to EUR 1.085 billion. Exports decreased by 13.5% and imports by 15.7%. The surplus in the trade of services was down by EUR 400 million to EUR 933 million - the central bank attributes this to issues with travel due to the coronacrisis.
STA, 8 June 2020 - Slovenia's central bank forecasts that Slovenia's economy will contract by 6.5% this year before it bounces back to 4.9% growth in 2021 and 3.6% in 2022. This is however the baseline forecast, there are also two alternative scenarios that factor in the gravity of the coronavirus crisis.
Under the positive scenario, the economy would contract by just 4% this year and expand by over 7% in the next two years; under the negative scenario the economy would contract by 10% this year, followed by stagnation in 2021 and a slow recovery in 2022.
Vice-governor Jožef Bradeško said the baseline scenarios accounted for less stringent lockdown measures and assumed the crisis will last through the first half of next year, when a medical solution is expected.
Under this scenario, "the positive effects outweigh the negative effects of harsher restrictive measures and the relatively high share of tourism," he said.
The baseline scenario assumes that private consumption will contract by 6.6% this year, which will be partially offset by a 3.5% increase in public spending.
Private consumption is expected to pick up next year, but government spending is projected to climb down.
Banka Slovenije's head analyst Arjana Brezigar Masten said domestic fiscal policy measures were an important component of the forecast since they offset the decline in private spending.
Absent stimulus measures, GDP would decline by a further three percentage points, she said.
Investments are expected to contract sharply this year, by 14.4%. Exports of goods and services are to decline by nearly 12.6% and imports by 13.6%.
A robust recovery of exports and imports is projected for 2021 and 2022, but it is thought domestic spending will be the main engine of growth going forward.
Employment is forecast to contract by almost 2%, which will lead to an increase in the average survey unemployment rate to 6% from 4.5% last year.
Inflation is expected to drop to zero this year before rising to over 1% in the next two years.
Consumer prices will be held down by low oil prices, which will offset the projected increase in food prices. Additionally, prices will be weighed down by poorer demand and external deflation pressure.
During the forecast period Slovenia will initially see a deterioration of public finances, with the general government deficit expected to exceed 8% of GDP this year.
The central bank believes the fiscal position will improve given that the shock will be only temporary, but general government debt will remain relatively high.
Central bank analysts estimate the existing stimulus measures at 5% of GDP.